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Survey: Internet Radio Listenership Gaining

Internet radio listening is gaining in popularity, increasing the market potential for home audio products incorporating Internet radio streaming, an Edison Media Research study implies.

In 1998, only 6 percent of Americas ages 12 and older had ever listened to Internet radio, but that percentage has tripled to 19 percent in a survey conducted earlier this year by the research company. About 21 percent of people in that age range, or a total of 54 million people, listened to Internet radio in the prior month, and 13 percent, or around 33 million, did so in the previous week, the survey found. (See chart 1.) All told, 46 percent of people ages 12 and older have listened to Internet radio at some time in the past.

The percentage of people ages 12 and older who listened to Internet radio in the past week is also way up, clocking in at only 2 percent in Edison’s 2000 survey and rising to 13 percent in the 2008 survey. (See chart 2.)

Although the weekly Internet radio audience skews slightly male, it attracts a broad range of age groups, and the most avid listeners aren’t necessarily the youngest, the survey also found. In fact, the 45 to 54 age group does the most listening compared to other age groups. A total of 27 percent of 35- to 44-year-olds listened to Internet radio in the prior week, as did 18 percent of 45- to 54-year-olds. In the 25 to 34 group, it was 15 percent, and 12 percent of the people in the 12 to 17 group and in the 18 to 24 group listened to Internet radio in the previous week. (See chart 3.)

Weekly Internet radio listeners were 52 percent male and 48 percent female.

Audio podcasting listening is also on the upswing. Eighteen percent of the surveyed people have listened to an audio podcast, up from 13 percent in 2007. Nine percent, or an estimated 23 million, have listened to an audio podcast in the past month.

Edison also determined that Internet radio is gaining on traditional radio as a medium for learning about new music. In 2008, 49 percent of surveyed consumers called traditional radio the medium “you turn to first to learn about new music,” with 25 percent citing Internet radio as the medium to turn to first. In 2002, in contrast, 63 percent said they turned first to traditional radio, with only 9 percent turning to Internet radio.

Among teens, however, “the Internet now leads radio for music discovery,” Edison said.

“Users continue to prove that they want to consume radio on their terms,” said Tom Webster, Edison VP. “On-demand media and a wealth of portable devices are creating listening occasions that were previously either unavailable or under-utilized, which is increasing the overall demand for audio content.”

A total of 1,857 people were interviewed earlier this year by telephone .