When the researchers at Edison Research and Triton Digital examined online audio for the 2021 edition of The Infinite Dial, the results suggested plateaus and areas of growth. For the record, the survey classifies AM/FM and internet only media as online audio.
The stats for monthly audio listening are one of the plateaus. In 2018, the numbers suggested 67% of Americans were tuned in. It increased one percentage point to 68% in 2019, and stayed there for the 2020 estimated figure, for a total of about 193 million listeners.
When the monthly numbers are broken down by demographics, they suggest a plateau for the 12–34 group, a decrease from 76 to 72% over the past year for those 35–54, and a surprising increase from 42 to 46% for those 55+.
Weekly online audio listening numbers suggest fairly steady growth since tracking began in 2000. They plateaued in 2018 and 2019 at 60%, and grew just two percentage points to an estimated 62% for 2020.
Figures for average time spent listening to online audio, according to Edison Research and Triton, have had some ups and downs since data collection began in 2008. The Infinite Dial reports 16 hours, 43 minutes for 2018, dropping to 15 hours, 12 minutes for 2019, and partially rebounding to 16 hours, 14 minutes for 2021.
When it comes to online audio brand awareness, the survey suggests that Pandora continues to lead the pack with 83%, followed by Spotify with 76%, and iHeartMedia with 72%. Awareness does not always track with what respondents listened to however. When asked what online audio brands they listened to in the last month, they named Spotify, Pandora and Google Play (now known as YouTube Music) as the top three. That same ranking held for weekly listening to audio bands as well as audio brands used most often.
Listening to online audio has traditionally been a solo activity, with earbuds plugged into a smartphone or other device as the preferred method. With the coming of smart speakers, there is the opportunity to experience online media with others. But how many actually do this? Under the heading of Frequency of Listening to Audio With Other People, the data suggests an almost 50–50 split. 24% of respondents say they do so frequently, while 21% say sometimes. On the other side, 21% say never and 28% saying hardly ever.