Public Radio Listeners Show Higher Adoption Of Smart Speakers.


Smart speaker ownership rose in 2021 with 26.1% of Americans aged 18+ owning at least one of the devices, according to the latest Nielsen Scarborough USA+ study (Release 1, January 2020 – May 2021, Adults 18+). But public radio listeners continue to have a higher adoption of smart speakers than the general population with 29.1% of the public radio audience owning at least one in 2021.


“An increasing number of listeners are choosing to listen to your station through a voice‐activated internet device rather than through a traditional radio,” the Radio Research Consortium says in a blog post analyzing the new Nielsen Scarborough numbers. While both groups saw an increase in smart speaker ownership, the pace of growth has slowed.


Another source that saw an increase in audio consumption during the pandemic, the smart TV, is now in over 40% of households.


The RRC analysis shows public radio listeners also consume more streaming audio and video. Almost half of public radio listeners (47.6%) stream breaking news, compared to 41.2% of the entire 18+ U.S. population. More than four in ten (41.0%) public radio listeners choose to stream an online music service, roughly the same as the total population, and more than a third (36.6%) use podcasts or listen to a local radio station online, either by the website or through an app. In both cases, public radio listeners index higher than for the general population. However public radio listeners are slightly less likely to listen to internet radio services (25.3%) like iHeartRadio or Audacy than the general population (26.4%).


“Listeners have many choices for online listening/viewing and they are including radio in the mix,” RRC says. “Podcast users, however, are much more prevalent in the public radio listeners group vs. the overall U.S. population, something to be cognizant of as use of podcasts continues to increase.”


The top streaming music services for both groups are Spotify, Pandora, and Amazon Music. Netflix continues to be the most popular video streaming service, but Amazon Prime is increasing rapidly and Disney+ is now showing up in the Scarborough database.


The RRC is a non-profit research company that provides listener data on radio audiences to non-commercial stations in the U.S.

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