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This Year Marks Near-Total ‘Triumph’ Of The Smart Device.

Streaming audio listening scaled a new peak in 2024. Driving that growth is what Edison Research calls a near-total “triumph” of the smart device. As of January 2024, 93% of the 12+ population owns a smartphone, smart TV, or a smart speaker. That’s up from 85% five years ago and now encompasses about 267 million people that own at least one smart device.

“These devices with digital connectivity designed to make access to content easier than ever are fully integrated in consumers lives,” Edison VP Megan Lazovick said Thursday at the Podcast Movement Evolutions conference in Los Angeles. 

Smartphones, the oldest of the three, lead at 90% penetration. When Edison researchers first asked about smartphone ownership in 2009, only 10% of the U.S. population had one.

Smart TV penetration reached 72% in 2024, up from 70% last year.

Smart speakers, or speakers using voice assistants, such as Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri were adopted quickly in homes after they came onto the market. In 2017, just 7% of the U.S. population owned one. By 2021, that shot up to one third of the population before peaking at 36% in 2023. This year that slipped to 34% or an estimated 98 million Americans.

“We're detecting a cooling in excitement around these devices,” Lazovick said about smart speakers. “But they're still in more than a third of these households. And while that excitement is dwindling, the number here could reflect the evolution of smart technology having the voice assistant in all types of products.”

Listening to audio is among the top use cases for smart speakers – 21% of the 12+ population has done so in the past month and 17% in the past week. “For about one in six Americans, the smart speaker is a device being used regularly for audio,” Lazovick noted.

And many of those who have adopted a smart speaker in the home have found reasons to purchase more than one. In 2018, 70% of smart speaker owners had just one device. “But quickly owning more than one device became the norm for most smart speaker owners,” Lazovick pointed out. By 2019, smart speaker households owned an average of two devices. That trend has ticked up consistently. In 2024, 43% of smart speaker owners had three or more of the devices in their household, up from 37% in 2023 and 33% in 2022. The mean number of these devices in households of those who own one is now 2.9.

While some may describe the smart speaker as a replacement for analog radio in the home, it still has a ways to go to catch up with radio receiver ownership. The latest numbers: 60% of the 12+ population lives in a household with a radio set, compared to 34% that have a smart speaker. “An estimated 172 million Americans have radios in homes,” Lazovick said. “There is just about a quarter of the population that said they don't own either. Presumably they’re using one of the other smart devices we talked about.”

As Nielsen has reported, the car is the location where most radio listening takes place and Infinite Dial backs that up. Among the 85% of Americans 18+ that have driven or ridden in a car in the last month, 70% currently listen to AM/FM radio in their primary car. “For most Americans in most vehicles, AM/FM radio is the most accessible with years of habitual listening,” Lazovick said.

Of course, Americans use multiple audio sources in the car and the new Edison data show that online radio listening on the road has become more pervasive. More than half of motorists (55%) listen to online radio in the car. Podcast listening ranks third at 32%.

The Infinite Dial is based on a national survey of 1,086 individuals aged 12 and older. The survey was conducted during January in both English and Spanish. The data was weighted to national 12+ U.S. population figures. This year’s report was produced with financial support of Audacy, Cumulus Media, and SiriusXM.

Download the 2024 Infinite Dial HERE.

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