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Edison-Amazon Report: ‘Streaming Audio Is Thriving And Likely To Continue Growing.’

Teaming up to analyze the biggest trends in streaming audio, Edison Research and Amazon Ads document not only the growth of online listening, but also shifts in consumer habits, such as a greater amount of in-home listening and a jump in spoken word content consumption.

Streaming Audio Is Thriving

“Streaming audio is thriving, and likely to continue growing,” said Edison Research VP Megan Lazovick. Speaking on a webinar Friday, she said their data shows three-quarters of all U.S. adults reported listening to streaming audio in the past month. That is a 74% jump in the past decade and a 27% growth rate during the past five years.

“Our research indicates that ease of use and new music discovery are two reasons for streaming audio growing; 83% of streaming audio listeners agreed,” Lazovick said. “Brands that can make online listening easier with new music discovery more accessible may continue to grow faster than brands that do not.”

Edison data shows U.S. adults spend an average of nearly two hours per day with streaming audio, which has grown 26% during the past three years. Isolating over-the-air AM/FM listening vs. streaming shows OTA with 43% of listening and streaming with 57%. The streaming number reflects the online streams of AM/FM radio, podcasts, streaming music and music on YouTube and excludes time with audiobooks, satellite radio, owned music, music channels on TV or other sources.

Edison’s data shows adults 18 to 34 spend about 174 minutes daily, or nearly three hours, with streaming audio, while adults 35 and older spend 82 minutes. But Lazovick said that is changing as the fastest growing segment is older adults. “Streaming audio reach has grown in the adult 18 to 34 age cohort by 18% in the past three years, while it has grown nearly 1.5 times that amount, or 24% in adults aged 35 and older,” she said.

More Listening Done In-Home

Streaming audio trends have shifted quickly during the past few years. Even as consumers have returned to normal routines, they have kept some habits formed during the pandemic. The data shows that 58% of all time spent with audio is done in the home, which is an increase of 21% since 2015.

“Our research indicates this trend is likely to continue with 42% of consumers reporting they listen to audio content more frequently in the home now than they did pre-pandemic,” Lazovick said.

Streaming Audio Offers Brands Reach

More people listening means there are more openings for advertisers to take advantage of streaming audio, according to the report. It says 78% of monthly streaming audio listeners are reached by ad-supported content. And 63% of them said streaming audio messages are less disruptive than video messages.

Subscription Fatigue Comes To Audio

Even as more people are listening to streaming audio, there may soon be fewer willing to pay for it. “Our research indicates that paid streaming audio subscriptions may decrease in the next three years, with 20% of paid subscribers reporting they plan to cancel their subscription,” Lazovick said. Brands will be able to reach them, however, since 81% of monthly streaming audio listeners in the U.S. who reported having a paid streaming audio subscription also reported listening to ad-supported audio content.

New Technology Fueling Online Listening

The report credits new technologies for helping fuel growth in online listening during the past two decades. That began with smartphones, with smart speakers helping to growth the habit in more recent years as ownership has grown four-fold during the past six years.

“Smart speaker ownership is fueling audio evolution and growth by providing more reach, increasing time spent with streaming audio and increasing tune in frequency. Smart speaker owners are more likely to be streaming audio listeners than non-smart speaker owners,” Lazovick said.

The data shows 91% of all U.S. adults who own a smart speaker reported they have listened to streaming audio in the past month, which over-indexes non-smart speaker owners by 20 points.

Smart speaker owners also spent more time with audio content overall.

More Content Options Increase Listening

It may seem logical that if someone has access to audio they want to listen to, they will listen more, and that is backed up by Edison data. That is especially true as more spoken word audio content has been developed.

In 2014, U.S. adults were spending 20% of their audio listening time with spoken word content. In 2023, that number has grown to 29%, representing a 42% share increase in the past decade. “We hypothesize this increase is due to increased spoken word content, such as podcasts and audio-based news services,” Lazovick said.

The study includes results from a meta-analysis of data from the past ten years using Edison Research’s Share of Ear and The Infinite Dial studies. Download the report HERE.

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