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How Modern Listeners Listen

Survey finds that podcasts and in-home interactive audio devices continue to find favor

When it comes to connecting to that daily dose of music and audio programming, more and more consumers are taking advantage of uniquely modern ways to do so.

That’s the assessment from the latest technology survey released by media research and consulting firm Jacobs Media Strategies, which found that the podcasts, devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home, and even the most modest of headphones are part of consumer’s listening agenda. More than 51,000 respondents were asked about their listening habits as part of the Jacobs Media 2017 Techsurvey 13.

The report found that podcast usage is continuing to grow, particularly with Millennials. Total usage of podcasts grew 1% year over year, with 21% of participants saying they listened to a podcast once week or more. The numbers were slightly higher for males (23%) when compared to females (19%), with Millennials in particular grabbing the largest share: 33%. Boomers were among the least engaged via podcasts, accounting for just 15% of listeners.

More than one in 10 of the respondents to Techsurvey 13 now owns an Amazon Echo or Google Home.

But despite the small increase, there’s a sizable number of listeners who simply aren’t engaged at all. Nearly half — 48% — said they’d never actually listened to a podcast. But there are those who listen and listen often: 10% say a podcast is part of their daily audio consumption.

When it comes to those that do listen to podcasts, the device of choice is the smartphone. Fifty-one percent listen to podcasts this way, followed by desktop and laptops (30%), and tablets (11%). Audio systems in the car get a fairly small slice of the pie: only 6%, followed by 3% who use in-home audio systems.

Don’t be shy about admitting it — many of us are also talking more often to our devices. When asked how often they use a built-in voice command feature, 20% say they frequently give a shout out to their electronic buddy. Of those that do, 23% are Gen Xers, followed by Boomers and Millennials (each at 19%).

And the devices we’re talking to are changing. More than one in 10 of those surveyed now own an in-home interactive audio device like Amazon Echo or Google Home. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you’re over the age of 60 or just 18, or an Asian male listener or Hispanic female: adoption of these devices is steady across the spectrum, with about 13% of all demographics surveyed saying they’ve got a device at home.

Don’t forget the humble headphone, which most often gets plugged in when consumers are working out (51%), as well as just plain working (32%), hanging out at home (31%) or while commuting (19%). And even though it’s a no-no in about half of the United States, a good 9% are rocking them out while driving.

In Part IV of this multipart series, Radio World will look at the results gleaned from audio in the car.