Country Radio Listeners Cotton to Smart Speakers

Survey says country stations need to do more to promote their skills
By Tom Vernon,

A recent survey released by Edison Research suggests there’s good news and bad news for country stations when it comes to smart speakers. The good, as published in “Country Radio: At Home with Smart Speakers,” is that country music radio listeners are enthusiastic about smart speakers and inclined to listen to more audio because of them. The bad, according to the study, only 25% of country music-listening smart speaker owners were aware of an AM/FM radio station that offers a smart speaker skill.

Reflecting on this statistic, Edison Research president Larry Rosin added, “Yes, the adoption of these devices into homes is a huge opportunity for radio. But don’t be complacent, with smart speakers you are competing on the ‘Infinite Dial,’ where all audio is available. Listening to your station is highly unlikely to be the first thing a smart speaker user will seek out. It is up to you to remind them.”

The study noted that music is a strong motivator for country listeners on smart speakers — 96% say listening to music was a reason for wanting the device, far and away the leading answer. And 81% say they used the device to play music last week, while 72% said they used it to play country music. Edison’s survey went on to say that country listeners who own smart speakers also say they listen to more music than overall respondents — 6 hours and 11 minutes a week, roughly an hour more than others.

The study also suggests a bit of a turnaround in the attitude of country listeners towards new technology. In the early days of digital audio, country listeners often lagged others in their adaption of technology, something which Edison thinks may have given some broadcasters a false sense of security. But among those who own smart speakers, the survey continued, country listeners show greater enthusiasm than their peers. Overall, 37% of country music-listening smart speaker owners agree they purchased the device “because all your friends and family members have one” vs. 26%. And suggesting that their listeners may now be more tech savvy, four out of five country smart speaker owners said that they think the device was easy to set-up.