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Smart Speakers, Podcasts Show Room For Growth In Lower-Ranked Markets.

Note to stations in markets 51 and below: if you're not actively promoting your Alexa connection, or your air staff isn't yet offering additional content via podcasting, there's never been a better time to boost your off-AM/FM audio profile.

An analysis of data from various sources, as part of Cumulus Media's just-released 2022 Audioscape, shows both smart speakers and podcasts, while currently strongest in the top 10 markets and over-indexing in markets 11-50, are underrepresented in markets 51+, where persons 18+ are 24% less likely to own the former or listen to the latter.

“While AM/FM radio dominates the audio landscape with mass reach and significant time spent, podcasts and smart speakers are fast-growing platforms representing engaging environments for brands,” Cumulus Media Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard says in Westwood One's latest “Everyone's Listening” blog. “It is not immediately clear why markets 51+ are opportunities for growth for podcasts and smart speakers, but it is worth further study and examination.”

Based on data from Nielsen and Scarborough, while markets 51+ represent 31% of the U.S. population, only 22% are smart speaker owners and 24% have listened to an audio podcast in the past 30 days, compared to markets 1-10, which accounts for the same share of the population yet with 35% smart speaking ownership and 37% podcast listeners.

Citing data from Edison Research’s Q4 2021 “Share of Ear” Report, the blog makes a stronger case for both audio options given the rapid growth in smart speaker ownership since 2017 – with 38% of Americans owning as of Q4 2021, up from 7% in 2017 – and podcast listeners' significantly younger median age, 33 vs. AM/FM's 47, even while the format's audience has grown. An additional plus for the latter: podcast listeners spend 41% more time daily with audio, five hours and 46 minutes vs. the U.S. average of four hours and five minutes. “Podcast listeners love audio and want more of it,” Bouvard says.

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