Last month, Edison Research reported that on-demand audio narrowly passed linear listening platforms in the second quarter. Digging deeper into the data, the research firm says linear platforms like broadcast radio continue to dominate listening in the car.
Edison’s Share of Ear data shows that on-demand audio had a 50.3 share of all daily audio time during the second quarter among U.S. listeners aged 13 and older. That compared to a 49.7% share for linear platforms, like over-the-air radio, station webcasts, and satellite radio.
Drilling down into listening locations, Edison says that 76% of the time spent with audio by Americans age 13+ in the car is with linear platforms, which include AM/FM radio, radio streams, SiriusXM Radio, and other radio services. On-demand platforms, such as paid streaming services, podcasts, or owned music such as CDs, garner 24% of the total in-car listening time.
That’s “a very different picture than what is seen in other listening locations,” Edison says. For listening in locations except for in-car, the majority of daily audio time is spent with on-demand platforms (60%) compared with 40% to linear platforms. “This would include listening at home, at work, and other places such as taking walks, or when at the grocery store or gym,” Edison says in its latest Weekly Insights piece.
Why is the linear audio experience preferred in the car over on-demand by a 3-to-1 margin? In a nutshell, it’s ease of use. “Listening to on-demand audio means more time navigating phone menus and making choices, when the road demands one’s attention. Linear audio is, for many people, just easier in-car,” Edison says. “The hardware is simple and making an audio choice requires fewer decisions.”
Edison’s Insights piece also notes that AM/FM and SiriusXM offer listening experiences where there is no pausing or rewinding, and the content choices are made by program directors. Those are all positives in a linear environment. And for broadcast radio, “there may be the added element in some cases of actual, live people, speaking to listeners in real time, which could provide companionship while driving.”
As on-demand listening becomes more streamlined and accessible in the car, Edison projects it will continue to grow in cars. “For now, though, linear audio takes the lion’s share of audio time among those age 13+ in the car,” it adds.