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Jacobs Says Digital Listening’s Impact Increases

Techsurvey 2018 suggests traditional patterns of media usage are rapidly changing

Jacob Media’s annual Techsurvey usually provides us with some surprises, in addition to giving hard data to trends we were already aware of. Techsurvey 2018 version does not disappoint. Perhaps the biggest takeaway, the survey says, is the continued changes taking place in radio’s traditional listening locations — the home, the car, and the workplace.

Among the highlights, Techsurvey documents a decline of the AM/FM radio in the home. The average use sits at 83%, but drops to 68% among millennials. On a related note, with smart speaker penetration exploding, as they are now owned by more than one in five (21%) respondents, up from 11% just one year ago. As Jacobs Media President Fred Jacobs points out, “We are continuing to see increasing digital platform usage for all forms of audio, particularly the emergence of Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home and the rise of smart speakers, whose ownership has nearly doubled in just one year.”

But don’t count AM/FM radio out just yet. Jacobs Media also claims radio still has a firm grip on the automotive audience. Nearly seven in ten (69%) say the fact it is easiest to listen to in the car is a main reason they enjoy listening to the radio (the most mentioned response among the choices presented), while six in ten (60%) say a main reason for listening is that it’s a free service.

[Read: Jacobs Eyes Impact of CES Trends on Radio]

Another not too surprising conclusion of the survey is that smart device ownership continues to climb, with 90% owning a smartphone, and tablet ownership now up to 70%.

While the bulk of radio listening, according to Techsurvey, takes place via “regular radios,” 27% of usage is now occurring via digital platforms — computer streams, mobile apps, smart speakers and podcasts — up sharply from 22% this time last year.

In addition to the car, Jacobs Media says the workplace is the other area where AM/FM consumption dominates. More than half of those who say they listen to any audio while working report frequently listening to AM/FM on a regular radio in the workplace (54%). An additional 23% listen to AM/FM streams on a computer/laptop, while 21% say they stream AM/FM radio stations on a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet.

Weekly podcast consumption, according to the Techsurvey, inched up slightly, at 23%, increasing from 21% a year ago. About three-fourths of regular podcast users (74%) listen on a smartphone, followed by fewer than half on a desktop/laptop computer (44%).

In what is claimed to be the largest ever survey of radio listeners, Techsurvey 2018 involved 567 stations, 64,289 respondents, 14 radio formats, and spanned five generations. The survey was conducted in early 2018 between Jan. 16 and Feb. 26. Stakeholder stations participated in a webinar on April 30, and the results of the study will be released over the next few months.

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