However you slice and dice the data, digital audio consumption continues to climb. New data from eMarketer shows that digital audio will account for 12.7% of total media time among US adults in 2022. And in digital media time, audio’s share will be 20.3%. It’s a big chunk compared to many other digital options.
Adults will spend more time each day listening to digital audio (1:40) than watching subscription OTT services like Netflix and Hulu (1:27), using social media (1:15), using tablets (1:09), or watching videos on their smartphone (0:40). “Listening to digital audio is one of the most popular digital activities we track, not least because it’s so easy to consume while multitasking,” eMarketer says in a new report titled “Digital audio is taking up a growing share of digital media time in the United States.”
Digital audio has taken up more than an hour a day of US adult time since 2016, and the time spent continues to head north. Last year, Americans found an extra seven minutes a day to listen to digital audio and will consume an extra three minutes a day this year, to hit 1:40. Among active digital audio listeners, the daily figure will be 2:17.
Keep in mind that eMarketer defines digital audio to include “music and other audio content delivered on a website or app.” This includes online streams from AM/FM stations, podcasts (streamed or downloaded), online radio stations and streaming services. This excludes other downloaded audio files such as MP3 music and digital terrestrial/satellite radio services that are broadcast over the air.
This wide range of services helps explain why nearly 55% of total audio time will be spent on digital platforms (1:40) while the remaining 45% (1:23) will be spent on traditional live radio. So even with AM/FM online listening included in the digital audio compartment, live AM/FM radio streaming “retains a significant amount of past audio time”. Radio will account for 10.5% of all time spent in media among American adults in 2022, which eMarketer says is “no small number.” According to Edison Research’s Q4 2021 Ear Share, the percentage of total online AM/FM listening was 11% among adults 18 and older.
Podcasts are a standout subcategory
Within digital audio, eMarketer says podcast listening “remains the most notable subcategory” in terms of growth. Under eMarketer’s broad digital audio umbrella is a range of services, including music, digital radio, audiobooks, seminars and even a new format called “audio-mentaries”. But podcasts continue to be the hottest item. The time American adults spend with podcasts will increase 15.0% this year, to just over 23 minutes per day. This represents 23.1% of the total digital audio time. Five years ago, podcasts accounted for just 9.1% of digital audio time.
The new data shows that podcast followers drive a significant amount of total media listening. While 37.4% of the US population will be podcast listeners this year, within this cohort, time spent with podcasts will reach nearly 53 minutes per day.