The benchmark study of American listening preferences, The Infinite Dial produced by Edison Research and Triton Digital, collects more information than is annually publicized every March. Thanks to an Edison release and webinar (yesterday) titled Radio Listener Profiles, we know that this year’s data include an understanding of how radio’s best listeners (so-called P1 listeners) map to social media, in-home technology, traditional AM/FM listening, and more.
There is an abundance of knowledge in the report. Overall, it seeks to position P1 listeners by their demographics, radio ownership, smart speaker ownership, social media use, loyalty to online audio brands, music discovery methods, and podcast listening. While of obvious value to AM/FM owners and operators, the info is interesting to the entire field.
Here are the official top-level takeaways which accompanied our copy of the webinar slides:
- Radio continues to have a hardware challenge, particularly with younger-leaning formats. Eleven formats were indexed against the market average for owning a traditional radio receiver in their home. Formats whose P1 listeners are more likely to own an in-home radio include Classic Hits, Classic Rock, Country, Hard Rock/Heavy Metal, News/Talk, and Sports. Formats less likely to own an in-home radio include Alternat
ive Rock, Contemporary Christian, and the two formats that index the lowest for in-home radio ownership: Hip Hop/Rap and Top 40. R&B is exactly the market average for owning a radio in the household.
- Smart speakers provide a partial solution for radio. Fortunately for radio, technology has provided more devices for listening. Smart speaker ownership is consistently growing, and radio formats with younger P1 listeners, such as Alternative Rock, Hard Rock/Heavy Metal, Hip Hop/Rap, R&B, Sports, and Top 40, are more likely to own one. Formats whose P1 listeners are less likely to own a smart speaker: Country, Classic Hits, Classic Rock, Contemporary Christian, and News/Talk.
- Online listening remains elusive for AM/FM radio stations. Over 75% of radio P1 listeners to Sports, Top 40, Alternative Rock, Hard Rock/Heavy Metal and Hip Hop/Rap reported listening to any online audio services in the last week. When looking specifically at listening to AM/FM radio online in the last week, however, the percentages drop significantly: Sports (45%), R&B (28%), News/Talk (26%), Alternative Rock (26%), Hard Rock/Heavy Metal (26%).
- Music discovery is moving to YouTube and other places. YouTube as a source for music discovery defies age and radio format boundaries and is one of the top three sources for new music discovery by all of the music formats profiled in this study. AM/FM radio was one of the top three sources for new music discovery by all of the music formats with the exception of Hip Hop/Rap.
Since the Infinite Dial always tracks usage of online audio brands, we were interested to see how P1 radio listeners interact with those brands. The graphic below shows how — remember that the respondents are not necessarily going to online platforms for the P1 station type they identify with. sports is a good example — Spotify does not supply sports except on the podcast side. Same with News/Talk.
YouTube is another story, no less interesting. The Google-owned platform is an increasing resource for music discovery — we know that from the basic Infinite Dial report over the past few years. The fascinating chart below illustrated first, second, and third music discovery resources for the main P1 radio categories:
Let’s quantify this. If we give three points to each #1 choice, two points to each #2 choice, and one point to each #3 choice, we arrive at an overall ranking of music discovery resources across the P1 music format categories:
YouTube (18 points)
AM/FM (18 points)
Friends/Family (14 points)
So, by this ranking system, we might be at an inflection point at which YouTube is on the cusp of taking the primary position in music discovery. A secondary indicator is this: The three formats which use YouTube most (Hip/Hop/Rap, R&B, Alternative Rock), are mostly for younger listeners: