October 1, 2023

Half of Those Online Listen to Internet Radio


For the first time, more than half of Americans that are 12-years-old or over listen to internet radio.

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According to “The New Mainstream,” a study by Edison Research and funded by the Streaming Audio Task Force, 53 percent of adults that are online listen to internet radio. While this certainly reinforces the obvious fact that internet radio is gaining a strong foothold as a medium of choice in the music industry, there are a couple of disclaimers we need to explore first before looking deeper into the study.

  1. The Streaming Audio Task Force is a group put together by Spotify, Pandora and TuneIn to produce market research on internet radio-related topics. Obviously those companies have a clear vested interest in their subject matter.
  2. The study is referring to “internet radio” as, basically, any way a user streams music online. This includes the classic definition of internet radio, labeled here as Personalized Radio (example: Pandora), as well as Live Streaming (example: iHeartRadio) and On-Demand Streaming (example: Spotify). Lumping these three groups together is something not typically done when looking at the listening patterns of internet users, not just because of the different types of listening experiences each provides, but also because they also are separated when it comes to legal classification.

Regardless, the new information shows a great growth in the digital music industry. In fact, another study researched listening habits during the first two months of this year and found that only 45 percent of users were listening to internet radio (as defined by the Streaming Audio Task Force).

It should also be pointed out that information making up “The New Mainstream” study comes from before iTunes Radio was released as a new competitor to Pandora in the Personalized Radio market. While it is unclear as yet how big of a player Apple’s service will become, it already has made a big splash with more than 11 million users tuning in during the first week the service was available.

Breaking the numbers down further, the survey finds that the most popular internet radio format is Personalized Radio, with 39 percent of online users listening to this platform. Streaming Live is next with 27 percent of online users, and On-Demand streaming follows with 18 percent. Obviously there is some overlap of listeners among the three platforms.

It’s also interesting that the study points out how users listen to online radio, particularly how big of a force mobile is. While 78 percent listen to online radio on their computer, 70 percent of those that listen to internet radio also listen to it on a smartphone.

Certainly internet radio has long been a threat to traditional AM/FM radio, as well satellite radio, and that threat may be even bigger now that so many listen to the radio online. However, while 67 percent of users say they listen to more online radio than they did a year ago, 81 percent they listen to the same or more over-the-air AM/FM radio than they did in the same period. Could it be that online radio is not a replacement for airwave radio, but rather a complement to it? As with most things in the digital music sphere, time will tell.

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