From Dial-Up to Digital Dominance: 25 Years of The Infinite Dial
The portion of Americans who listen to any kind of online audio, and those who listen to podcasts, have reached record highs, according to The Infinite Dial® 2023 from Edison Research with support from Amazon Music, Wondery, and ART19.
Today’s online presentation of The Infinite Dial 2023 marks the 25th anniversary of the study, which is the longest-running survey of digital media consumer behavior in America. Edison Research Vice President Megan Lazovick, with Edison Research President Larry Rosin, presented the latest research from the annual study, including highlights of trends from 1998 to 2023.
The Infinite Dial findings illuminate the changes over the past quarter of a century as America has gone from dial-up to digital dominance:
- In 1998, 31% of Americans had internet access, compared with 95% in 2023
- In 1998, half of households had a computer, compared with 91% of Americans in 2023 who carry a computer with them all the time – a smartphone
- In 1998, 6% of Americans had ever listened to online audio, compared with 70% of Americans in 2023 who listen to online audio every week
Significant changes in media consumption can also be seen in just the last few years as well.
Ownership and usage of digital and smart devices continues to increase:
- 58% of those in the U.S. age 12+ own wireless headphones, up from 50% in 2021
- 70% of those in the U.S. age 12+ own a smart television, up from 61% in 2021
- 36% of the U.S. 12+ population owns a smart speaker, up from 33% in 2021. Of those who own a smart speaker, 43% have one device, 20% have two, and 38% have three or more
Online audio listening continues to grow:
- 75% of Americans 12+ have listened to online audio in the last month
- 87% of Americans age 12-54 have listened to online audio in the last month
- Among U.S. adults age 18+ who have ridden in a car in the last month, 37% are listening to online audio in the car, up from 32% last year
Podcast findings include:
Monthly and weekly podcast listening bounces back:
- 42% of Americans 12+ have listened to a podcast in the last month, a new all-time high and up from 38% in 2022
- The majority of Americans age 12-54 (53%) have listened to a podcast in the last month 31% of Americans 12+ have listened to a podcast in the last week, up significantly from 26% in 2022
- 39% percent of those Americans age 12-54 have listened to a podcast in the last week
Weekly podcast listeners are consuming more podcasts:
- Weekly podcast listeners listened to an average of nine podcast episodes in the last week, up from eight episodes in 2022.
More people are listening to podcasts in-car:
- 38% of U.S. adults age 18+ who have ridden in a car in the last month say they listen to podcasts in the car, up from 32% in 2022
Podcast listening is still stagnant among those 55+:
- 21% of Americans age 55+ listened to a podcast in the last month
- 14% of Americans age 55+ listened to a podcast in the last week, flat from 2022.
Lazovick said, “After two previous annual studies that showed clear effects from the COVID-19 disruptions, the trends in audio and social media habits seem to be back on pattern. The growth of online audio and podcasting to record high levels is exciting to reveal.”
Jeanine Wright, Wondery COO and General Manager, noted, “Having credible data is the key to growing the audio space for creators and advertisers alike. Everyone at Amazon Music, Wondery, and ART19 is proud to support the annual Infinite Dial survey, providing information that the audio and social media spaces can use to plan their strategies in the year ahead.”
Other findings include:
- More than half (53%) of Americans age 12+ have listened to an audiobook
- Social media usage remains flat, with 82% of those age 12+ and older using social media
- Among those age 12-34 who use social media, Instagram is most-used by 31%, TikTok is most-used by 22%, and Facebook is in third place as being the most-used at 20%
- Employed U.S. adults are returning to the workplace, with 78% of them saying they primarily work outside the home, up from 70% in 2021
- Among U.S. adults who have ridden in a car in the last month, 26% have either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto available in their primary vehicle
The study may be downloaded at: https://www.edisonresearch.com/infinite-dial-2023-from-edison-research-with-amazon-music-wondery-and-art19/
About The Infinite Dial
The Infinite Dial® study uses the gold standard of nationally representative survey research—a random probability telephone sample comprised of both mobile phones and landlines— of all Americans ages 12 and older. Findings from the Infinite Dial have become the barometer of digital audio and other digital media consumption and are widely used and quoted by broadcasters, podcasters, online radio publishers, ad agencies, and the financial community.
How the study was conducted
In January 2023, telephone interviews were conducted with 1,500 respondents age 12 and older who were selected via Random Digit Dial (RDD) sampling through both landline phones and mobile phones. The survey was offered in both Spanish and English. Data was weighted to national 12+ U.S. population estimates.
About Edison Research
Edison Research conducts survey research and provides strategic information to a broad array of clients worldwide, having conducted research in 66 countries. Edison Research’s The Infinite Dial® series has been the survey of record for digital audio, social media, podcasting, smart speakers, and other media-related technologies since 1998. The company’s Share of Ear® survey is the only single-source measure of all audio in the U.S. Edison Research is the leading podcast research company in the world, producing the only survey-based data on podcast listening in the U.S, Edison Podcast Metrics, and has conducted research for many companies in the space. Since 2004, Edison Research has been the sole provider of election data, race projections and analysis to the National Election Pool (ABC News, CBS News, CNN, NBC News) for every presidential primary and general election.
About Amazon Music
Amazon Music is an immersive audio entertainment service that connects fans, artists, and creators through music, podcasts, and culture. Amazon Music brings fans closer to what they love, with curated and personalized playlists, artist livestreams, artist merch, and Amazon Exclusive podcasts. Prime members get access to over 100 million songs in shuffle mode, All- Access playlists, plus the largest catalog of top ad-free podcasts, included with their membership. Customers can upgrade to Amazon Music Unlimited for full, on-demand access to 100 million songs in HD and a growing catalog of Ultra HD and Spatial audio. Anyone can listen to Amazon Music by downloading the free Amazon Music app, or wherever they listen to music including Alexa-enabled devices. Learn more at www.amazonmusic.com.
Wondery, an Amazon company, is a premium podcast studio known for character-driven, binge- worthy stories including Dr. Death, British Scandal, Even the Rich and Business Wars, and distribution of hit partner shows SmartLess, My Favorite Murder, Morbid and How I Built This. Wondery was behind eight of the “Top 25 New Shows of 2022”, according to Podtrac, including Twin Flames, Fed Up and Will be Wild. Over 50 shows from Wondery have hit #1 on Apple Podcasts including Scamfluencers and Twin Flames. Many Wondery podcasts have been adapted for scripted television or streaming series, including Dr. Death and Joe vs Carole on Peacock and The Shrink Next Door and WeCrashed on Apple TV+. Wondery has gained critical acclaim and commercial success for its immersive approach to sonic, emotionally driven storytelling. The Wondery app offers a unique, personalized podcast listening experience, including access to its premium ad-free offering Wondery+. With Wondery+, fans experience early access, exclusive episodes, and ad-free listening. https://wondery.com/
ART19, an Amazon company, provides cutting-edge tools for on-demand audio hosting, distribution, ad serving, and audience measurement. At the intersection of publishers and advertisers, the company powers hundreds of millions of podcast downloads every month for the industry’s largest shows. ART19 enables publishers and advertisers to manage all content and ad operations in one place, offering best-in-class smart targeting capabilities, seamless integration with listening services, and a flexible infrastructure to continuously enhance revenue opportunities for its clients.
This is a press release from Edison Research which we link to from Podnews, our daily newsletter about podcasting and on-demand. This is reprinted verbatim; we may rewrite headlines and descriptions.