Current Trends in Audio – Radio is Holding Steady

By Laura DiCaprio

Over the past few months, as people stopped commuting to the office and started working from home, it was assumed that overall radio listenership must be trending downwards. People only listen to the radio in their cars, right? Not so, according to recent polls. Although lots of people listen to the radio in their cars, the emergence of smart speakers and streaming services has brought radio listening into the home once again. Over the course of the pandemic, smart speaker ownership and use has increased, helping radio keep a steady presence in the market.


Quick Facts

  • 83% of consumers report that their radio consumption has remained the same or increased during the pandemic, but how they are listening has changed; while in-home listening has increased 26%, in-car listening has decreased 32%.
  • Streaming radio platforms are gaining in popularity, while broadcast listening is experiencing a slight decline (see chart below).
  • Smart Speaker ownership and usage, such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home, has increased during the pandemic. Since the outbreak, 24% of Americans own a smart speaker (compared to 21% in 2019), and 36% of smart speaker owners reported using their devices more often.

blog 73020 1 - Current Trends in Audio - Radio is Holding Steady

Broadcast radio listenership, while declining, is holding relatively steady. Similarly, streaming is experiencing a slight uptick.


Key Takeaways

  • Ads via streaming platforms, such as Spotify, Pandora, and iHeartRadio, will reach at-home listeners. Since in-car listenership is slightly down in Q1, radio plans should have a mix of broadcast and streaming platforms, to best reach both audiences.
  • Although time spent listening to broadcast radio has been on a slow decline since 2014, it’s held relatively steady. Broadcast should still be considered for all audio plans, especially for the A18-54 demo.
  • With smart speaker ownership and usage on the rise, it will be important to look for other opportunities within the audio platform, such as podcasts.