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Survey Says Media Consumption Trends Upwards

Listening habits change as Americans go back to work and school.

This story is part of a week-long series where author Tom Vernon breaks down the newly-released “Infinite Dial” report, which gives insights into various aspects of radio’s modern competitive environment and consumer consumption habits. 

Despite the social, economic and political turmoil that has wracked this country for the past 24 months, media consumption has continued to increase. That, according to research from  The Infinite Dial 2022

What’s changed this year, according to the survey, is that Americans have started to go back to work and school. This is a significant influence on the 2022 numbers. Edison Research SVP Tom Webster presented this year’s findings onstage at the Podcast Movement: Evolutions event in Los Angeles last week.

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The survey suggests that the growth in media and technology has been a driving force behind digital audio. Much of that growth has been on the coat tails of smartphone adoption. That number, according to Edison’s research, appears to be at saturation with 88 percent of the U.S. population, or 252 million Americans owning these devices — the same as last year.

The Infinite Dial 2022 report. Graph detailing smartphone ownership.

Also seeming to hit a plateau is tablet ownership, up just two percentage points from last year at 53 percent. Edison’s research suggests that smart speaker ownership may also have hit the saturation point. Growing steadily since their introduction in 2017, this year’s growth  is just two percentage points over 2021, at 35 percent of the population, or 100 million. Taken by itself, this number may be misleading, as those who own a smart speaker can always purchase more of the devices, contributing to their growth. 

The Infinite Dial 2022 report. Graph detailing tablet ownership.

When looking at the data for numbers of smart speakers in a household, the research suggests a trend towards ownership of more than one device. Starting in 2018, the numbers claimed that 67 percent of owners had one, 22 percent had two, and just 11 percent had three or more smart speakers. Fast forward to 2022, where just 41 percent own a single device, 26 percent own two, and 33 percent owning three or more.

The Infinite Dial 2022 report. Graph detailing smart speaker ownership.

When ownership is ranked by brand, the research suggests that Amazon Alexa is the clear winner, with 23 percent of those owning smart speakers. Google Nest is a distant second with 11 percent, and Apple Home Pod is an even more distant third with just two percent. It may be approaching the point where ‘Alexa’ and ‘smart speaker’ may become synonymous.

In January of 2022, Edison Research conducted telephone interviews with 1,502 respondents age 12 and older. They were selected via Random Digit Dial (RDD) sampling through both landline phones and mobile phones. The survey was offered in both Spanish and English. Data was weighted to national 12+ U.S. population estimates.

[Read the next in this five-part series: “Survey Says AM/FM Radio Still #1 in the Car”]