The Infinite Dial 2009: Radio’s Digital Platforms, the 17th study by Arbitron and Edison Research, shows continued growth in usage and ownership of various forms of digital audio platforms, including online radio, iPod/MP3 players, and podcasting. The study also showed the weekly online radio audience increased significantly in the past year to 17% of the U.S. population age 12+; up from 13% in 2008. On a weekly basis, online radio reaches 20% of 25-to-54 year-olds; up from 15% in 2008.
AM/FM radio continues to have a big impact on people’s lives. The study asked consumers to rate the impact different digital audio platforms has on their lives. More than one in five radio listeners (21%) say it has a big impact on their lives; ranking second only to owners of the Apple iPhone in particular (23%) and cell phone owners in general (47%) as the audio platform/device that has a big impact on people’s lives.
Online radio listeners are more likely to be upscale, well-educated and employed full time; 54% of weekly online radio listeners are employed full-time (compared to 43% among persons 12 and older); 16% of weekly online radio listeners live in homes with an annual income of $100,000+ (vs. 10% among persons 12 and older); 37% of weekly online radio listeners have a college degree or higher education level (vs. 29% among persons 12+).
Weekly online video viewing among persons age 12 and older is up significantly in the past year, from 18% (46 million) in 2008 to 27% (69 million) in 2009.
One-third (34%) of persons age 12+ report having a profile on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, or any other social networking Web site, up from 24% in 2008; This figure is substantially greater among young adults. Nearly two-thirds of teens age 12-to-17 (63%) and 18-to-24 year-olds (64%) report having a profile on these social networking sites.
iPod/portable MP3 player ownership continues to grow dramatically. More than four in ten (42%) persons age 12 and older own an iPod or other brand of portable MP3 player; up from 37% in 2008 and three times the number in 2005 (14%). Nearly two-thirds (64%) of 18-to-24 year-olds own a digital audio player.
While only 14% of persons age 12 and older say they are spending less time with over-the-air radio specifically due to time spent with iPods and other portable MP3 players, digital audio players have greater impact on radio among 12-to-24 year-olds. Thirty two% of teens age 12-to-17 and persons 18-to-24 say they are spending less time with over-the-air radio specifically due to time spent with iPod/other portable MP3 players; this is nearly twice as many 18-to-24 year-olds who reported spending less time with over-the-air radio as 2008.
Audio podcasting usage also continues to increase. 22% of Americans age 12+ have ever listened to an audio podcast; up from 18% in 2008. In 2009, 11% (estimated 27 million) reported having listened to an audio podcast in the past month (up from 9%, or an estimated 23 million, in 2008.)
Media implications offered in the study:
Radio’s digital platforms provide advertisers with new touch points to reach consumers: Radio’s digital platform users are a highly attractive consumer segment and broadcasters provide an increasingly wide variety of digital options for advertisers and new methods to connect ROI with media spend.
Americans are exercising more control over their use of media: Consumers say flexibility, control and variety drive their use of online and portable media options.
Audio content providers should not ignore the explosion of online video or social networking: Two-thirds of monthly online radio users also reported having watched online video in the past month; one-third of Americans 12+ and two-thirds of teens 12-to-17 and 18-to-24 year-olds now have a profile on a social networking Web site.
Media should accelerate efforts to get their content on mobile phones: The broad usage and big impact of mobile phones suggests that content providers who have not done so already should consider finding ways to extend their content to mobile phones.