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In the Car, Podcasts and Online Audio Continue to Grow

Radio still rules in the car, but for how long?

This is one in a series about the latest edition of “The Infinite Dial.” (Read the previous story.)

The section of The Infinite Dial dealing with in-car media is its own microcosm, with a unique selection of disruptive and emerging technologies and rules of engagement.

One of the joyful ironies of watching this category is seeing AM/FM radio, now past the century mark, handily trounce all digital media newcomers, year after year; and 2023 is no exception, with radio taking 73 percent in “audio sources currently ever used in car,” according to Edison’s findings.

Yet sadly that may change, if manufacturers of electric cars continue to omit AM radios in those vehicles or if radio itself becomes a paid option.

The report finds no seismic shifts in sources used this year. The categories of AM/FM, “owned” digital music and online audio are virtually unchanged from last year, while podcasts and online audio showimodest gains. The CD player took another hit, down six percentage points to 29 percent. (In addition to changing consumer tastes, this may partly be due to the fact that there’s an ever-increasing number of early 2000s cars heading to the scrap yard, leaving some pondering what to do with their 1,500+ CD music libraries.) SiriusXM declined a bit.

Slide from the Infinite Dial report showing trends in various audio sources used in the car

Perhaps more telling are the changes in each category over a decade, as shown below. The trend for radio is definitely down, though not as severe as for CDs.

Slide from the Infinite Dial showing changes in consumption of various audio media in cars compared to 10 years earlier

Another metric tracked by Edison is online audio listening in a car via a cell phone. Their data suggests an uptick of four percentage points to 53 percent after a decline the year before.

Slide from the Infinite Dial report showing growth in listening to online audio iin cars via cell phones

The report also documents the growth in the use of mobile operating systems Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Slide from the Infinite Dial report showing growth in use of mobile operating systems to listen to audio in cars

Again, it is worth noting that this growth may indicate not only direct consumer interest but also the fact that more new cars come with these systems standard.

Read the next article in this series.