April 30, 2020

Smart Speakers Boost News Consumption

By Idil Cakim, SVP Research and Insights, Audacy

The latest Smart Audio Report from NPR and Edison Research, released on April 30th, is a testament to the way radio content is woven into our lives and continues to cascade across communities, regardless of changes in our daily activities. The Winter 2019 edition of the study had shown Smart Speaker use has been on the rise for the past couple years (+135%)—effectively creating another tune-in button at home.  It highlighted how spoken word’s share of Smart Speaker time has increased by 20% in the past five years and that AM/FM’s content consumption on Smart Speakers (24%) was twice that of Pandora (12%), followed by Spotify (9%).1

The Spring Study, which includes Covid-19 timeframe, shows a very sharp increase (+13% YOY) in the number of Smart Speaker owners who tune into news content. News consumption among Smart Speaker users is near universal, with 91% indicating they listen to the same amount, if not more since the crisis.  Young adults are also fast at adopting this news consumption trend: Half of 18-34 year olds with Smart Speakers indicate they have listened to news more since the outbreak.2

smart speaker chart

At Audacy, we observe that the crisis is propelling Smart Speaker listening as well. Audiences are flocking to spoken word content—news, in particular—on Smart Speakers. In March, consumption of our content on Smart Speakers saw a whopping +90% YOY increase in total hours listening.3 Overall, engagement with our news content surged…especially on digital platforms (+69% YOY in March)4.

While many ponder which newly acquired habits will remain post-crisis, we believe Smart Speaker use is here to stay. The 5-year upward trend of radio consumption on Smart Speakers will continue. AM/FM content’s pervasiveness, resilience and relevance among local communities will be critical as we move forward to a new normal.

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1NPR/Edison Research Smart Audio Survey, Winter 2019 (conducted 12/31/2019 to 1/05/2020)
2NPR/ Edison Research Smart Audio Survey, Spring 2020 (conducted 3/31/2020 to 04/01/2020)
3Triton Digital, March 2020
4Triton Digital, March 2020

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