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Report: Media Habits Now A Matter Of Control.

Working with researcher SmithGeiger, tech provider Futuri has published an in-depth white paper on trends and opportunities for radio, television and digital publishing. Based on a new poll of 2,000 Americans, “The Future of Audience and Revenue” also surveyed 200 media executives and conducted focus groups with 100 media consumers.

Futuri says a key theme that emerged around media usage is control. “This reality was perhaps best highlighted while speaking with consumers about the difference between listening to the radio and listening to podcasts,” its report says.

Survey takers asked participants “how do you feel when listening to the radio?” Futuri says it got back answers that touched on the control theme – and led to discussion of podcasting. “I’m in control of what I want to listen to, when I want to listen to it. It’s just all about that for me, whereas when you listen to the radio, the DJ has control,” said one person.

The report says multiple technology trends over the years have been converging to put more control in the hands of consumers. But it says the COVID-19 pandemic has given that even more resonance with the loss of control over foundational patterns in our daily lives, like going to work or school, restaurants, stores, or nearly any event, both public and private.

“Now, it can be easy to dismiss this desire for total control and no ads as unrealistic given the large percentage of consumers who also don’t want to pay to stream the content of their exact choice,” the report says. “Broadcast radio is still a free medium; however, our research shows there is an impressive percentage of people willing to pay for streaming services.”

Another of the conclusions Futuri draws from the study is that the perception of media is changing as conventional definitions blur. In the consumer’s mind, TV now means all forms of video, from standard live television to streamed events, video posts on social media and YouTube. Radio refers to any form of transmitted audio over any channel.

“The results clearly indicate that fundamental innovation is required to keep pace with the evolution of how Americans consume media in the modern era,” the report says.

The report also shines a light on how the pandemic upended the media business: more than three fourths of the executives surveyed (77%) said their company lost advertising revenue since the onset of COVID-19; 73% said they have employees working from home; 44% experienced layoffs or reduced headcount; and 35% said their responsibilities have changed.

While the resulting advertising downturn caused many media companies to change their business structure and capital allocation, audience habits were also impacted with Americans consuming more media than pre-pandemic. Nearly 6 in 10 survey respondents (57%) said they have been watching more streamed content during the past few months, 54% are using technology more to connect with others, 51% are watching more television, 48% are using more social media, and 30% are listening more to local AM/FM radio. The survey did not ask about podcasting.

Conducted in late spring through mid-summer 2021, SmithGeiger conducted 2,029 nationwide interviews with media users ages 16-74, and nearly 200 interviews with TV, radio, and digital publishing executives throughout the U.S. Futuri says the study polled a statistically significant sample across age groups, employment, income, and education, as well as an accurate cross-section of the media industry based on age, gender, properties, and experience levels. The study also included focus groups with 100 U.S. media consumers.

Futuri provides AI-driven audience engagement and sales technology to radio stations. SmithGeiger offers research and consulting services to companies in a wide array of industries.

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