Online radio is now listened-to by 50% of all Americans

By James Cridland for
Posted 8 March 2016, 8.07pm est

James Cridland

New figures from Edison Research reveal that 50% of all American adults listen to internet radio every week. The figure reflects both pureplay services (like Pandora) and online simulcasts of AM/FM radio stations.

This represents a rapid growth over the last few years, as a graph posted on the Edison Research website shows. In 2013 the figure was only 33%, and total cume has doubled in just five years.

RAJAR in the UK say that online radio is used by 16.4% of the UK adult population; but RAJAR doesn't explicitly measure pureplay online services. RAJAR's latest MIDAS research doesn't publish details of how music services split out, though page 10 of their latest pack shows online music services achieving around half the cume of radio during the work day.

The apparent disparity might be explained by simple definition. It's my understanding that Americans might call services like Pandora, Spotify or Google Play Music a "radio" service, whereas that definition doesn't seem to be shared by most UK listeners.

In Australia, Pandora alone claims two million listeners - 10% of the population. Spotify claims it's growing three times as fast, and claims 25% of all Australians have used the service.

Press release

Online radio has reached a critical new high, with 50% of Americans 12-plus now saying that they listened to the medium last week, representing an estimated 136 million persons. That figure, which includes Internet radio of any sort, whether pureplay or the online stream of a broadcast radio station, is the latest preview of Thursday’s unveiling of the Infinite Dial 2016 study.

The growth is impressive considering that online radio only crossed the 50% monthly penetration threshold in last year’s Infinite Dial report. “We’ve been tracking this behavior since 2000, and it has truly been remarkable to see this march upward from 2% to half of all Americans,” noted Edison’s Vice President of Strategy, Tom Webster. “The trend here also correlates extremely well with the rise in smartphone ownership. With online radio accessible in the pockets of a majority of Americans, consumption of this medium has rapidly become a habit for millions.”

Infinite Dial 2016 is the latest in the long-running series of studies on consumer adoption of digital media. The survey from Edison Research and Triton Digital has become a report card for the digital, broadcast, advertising and financial communities. The new report will be unveiled in full Thursday (10 Mar) at 2 PM ET. Limited free sign-up is available here.

Previously reported findings from this year’s survey include a surge in monthly podcast consumption from 17% to 21%. Look for more noteworthy data on music discovery, social networks, and streaming music services this Thursday.

The Infinite Dial 2016 is based upon a representative sample of 2001 Americans 12+, conducted via mobile phone and landline, to the most meticulous standards in research. These data, like all Infinite Dial data, are projectable to the U.S. population.

More information

Edison Research
Audience research for radio, business and government
James Cridland — James runs, and is a radio futurologist: a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business. He also publishes a free daily newsletter about podcasting, Podnews, and a weekly radio trends newsletter.


6 years, 7 months ago

There must come a point in the radio manufacturing process when mid to high range digital radio sets will all include eradio capability as standard for the north American market! That is, assuming the ibiquity HD Radio outfit will experience "mainstream" consumption in the not-too-distant-future!

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