Taking Radio for a Ride

Jacobs Media report looks at audio consumption in the car
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Radio rules the roost: The report looked at those features that respondents listed as “very important” when purchasing a new car. Source: Jacobs Media Strategies Techsurvey 13.

When it comes to the car, radio is the format with which we want to ride.

That’s the assessment of a new report released by the research and consulting firm Jacobs Media Strategies, which asked more than 51,000 respondents about their listening habits as part of the Jacobs Media 2017 Techsurvey 13.

The survey reported that nearly 9 in 10 of those respondents in the market for a new car said that it was “very important” that their new wheels come with an AM/FM radio. Nearly 88% said this was an important feature, followed by Bluetooth connectivity (67%) and smartphone connectivity (64%). Perhaps surprisingly, way down at the end of the list, was a shout out for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, at only 18%.

On a typical weekday, radio’s share of in-car listening is fairly high: at 64%, followed distantly by satellite radio and personal music collections, at 13% and 11% respectively. Streaming audio and audio books take only a tiny part of that pie, at 4% and 2% respectively.

Drivers are listening to more than just the radio, however. More than six in 10 respondents said they can currently connect their mobile phone or MP3 player in their cars today. Millennials are driving that trend, with 77% saying they can connect their devices in their cars, followed by Gen Z at 73%, Gen x at 69% and Boomers at 57%.

Despite satellite radio’s lower numbers within the survey when it comes to new car demand, the format is seeing some growth. Satellite radio is growing in popularity with men and older listeners, with Boomers (at 26%) holding most of the satellite radio subscriptions. There’s also a sizable chunk of former listeners that are no longer tied into satellite radio. The survey found that 21% of those surveyed used to subscribe, but now no longer have active subscriptions.

In Part V of this multipart series, Radio World will look at the break down between the generations when it comes to listening habits. (Grandpa, turn up the radio.)

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