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Survey: Online Radio Use In Car Still Growing

COLUMBIA, MD. — Online radio listening in the car continues to grow, with 21 percent of cellphone owners reporting that they have listened to music streamed from a cellphone to a connected car stereo, according to a first-quarter survey by Arbitron and Edison Research.

That’s up from 17 percent in the 2012 survey, 11 percent in the 2011 survey, and 6 percent in the 2010 survey.

Inside the car, however, entertainment listening is still dominated by AM/FM radio and CD, with in-car playback of downloaded music coming in third, satellite radio fourth, and online radio fifth, the survey found.

In the car, 84 percent of consumers ages 18 and older listen to AM/FM in their primary car, and 63 percent listen to CDs. Twenty-nine percent listen to an iPod/MP3 player, and 15 percent listen to satellite radio. A total of 12 percent listen to online radio, and 3 percent listen to HD Radio.

When it comes to splitting up their listening time in the car, however, consumers still listen mainly to AM/ FM, the survey found. Fifty-eight percent listen to AM/ FM “almost all of the time” or “most of the time,” while CD listening came in at 15 percent. That was followed by iPod/MP3 playback at 11 percent, satellite radio at 10 percent, online radio at 4 percent, and HD Radio at 1 percent.

As for which online services are streamed to a car stereo, the survey provides some clues. Among smartphone owners, 47 percent downloaded the Pandora app, and 15 percent downloaded the iHeart- Radio app. Other apps ranked like this: AM/FM station app, 9 percent; Spotify, 6 percent; Aha Radio, 5 percent; Songza, 4 percent; SiriusXM, 3 percent; and, 2 percent.

All told, 56 percent of smartphone owners downloaded at least one of those apps, and the majority of cellphone users ages 12 and older, or 53 percent, own a smartphone. Within the 18- to 34-year-old age group, which is more likely to buy aftermarket car audio than older age groups, smartphone adoption is the highest.

Sixty percent of people ages 12 to 17 own a smartphone, and 75 percent of people ages 18 to 24 do. Seventy-four percent of consumers ages 25 to 34 own a smartphone, with the percentage falling to 69 percent in the 35 to 44 age group, 51 percent in the 45 to 54 age group, and 34 percent in the 55 to 64 age group. Only 17 percent of people ages 65 and older own a smartphone.

Whether inside or outside a car, 44 percent of smartphone owners said they have streamed audio through their mobile device. Only 18 percent of smartphone owners, however, stream audio once a day or more. Twentysix percent of smartphone owners listen to online music through the devices on less than a daily basis.

Smartphone owners listen to downloaded music stored on their smartphone more often than they listen to online radio through their smartphone. A total of 54 percent of smartphone owners have listened to music stored on their mobile device, the survey found.

Only 32 percent of smartphone owners, however, listen to stored music once a day or more. Twenty-two percent of smartphone owners play back stored music on less than a daily basis.

In other findings, the survey found that the percentage of Americans ages 12 and older who listened to online radio in the home, car, office or on the go in the past week and past month continues to grow. The percentage of people who listened in the past month hit 45 percent in the latest survey, or an estimated 120 million Americans. That’s up from the previous year’s 39 percent, 2009’s 27 percent, and 2003’s 17 percent.

The percentage of people who listened to online radio in the past week hit 33 percent, or an estimated 86 million people. That’s up from the previous year’s 29 percent, 2009’s 17 percent, and 2003’s 8 percent.

The average amount of time spent each week listening to online radio grew to 11 hours and 56 minutes in the latest survey, up from the previous year’s 9 hours and 46 minutes. In 2008, average weekly listening time was 6 hours and 13 minutes.

For the survey, 2,021 people ages 12 and older were interviewed.