Infinite Dial 2017 – Radio Continues to Dominate The Car

Edison Research and Triton Digital last night unveiled their yearly Infinite Dial study, where they show American consumer usage of media and technology, including coverage of digital audio, social media, mobile smart speakers and podcast consumption.

The Infinite Dial study uses the “gold standard” of nationally representative survey research. The study has become the report card on digital audio and other digital media.

Key findings include:

  • Time spent listening to online radio has surged to an all-time high, with listeners spending 14 hours and 39 minutes a week listening to online radio.
  • Pandora dominated audio brands with 86% aware of the brand.
  • 2 in 5 Americans have listened to a podcast in their lifetime.
  • Radio continues to dominate in-car audio with 47% using it as their primary source of car audio.
  • Snapchat is the most used social media platform amongst 12-24 year olds.

Online Radio

An estimated 170 million Americans 12 years old and up listen to online radio each month, this is 61% of American adults and teens, this is up by 4% from last year. It’s mostly the younger generation listening to online radio, with 87% of 12-24 year old listening to online radio.

Time spent listening to online radio has surged to an all-time high with weekly online radio listeners spending an average of 14 hours and 39 minutes a week listening to online radio. This growth, from 12:08 in 2016 to 14:39 in 2017, is possibly due to the continued growth in smartphone listening.

Online radio listening in car is up by 3% from last year with 4 in 10 Americans 12+ saying that they have listened to internet radio in car by listening to the stream from a cell phone that they have connected to a car audio system.

Infinite Dial Diagram - Online radio listening in car

Audio brands

Pandora continues to dominate audio brand awareness, although Spotify has made notable gains, especially amongst 12-24 year old Americans.

According to the data, 86% of respondents were aware of Pandora, followed by iHeartRadio with 71% awareness. Spotify came third with 62% and Apple Music and Amazon Music followed closely with both at 60% awareness.

Furthermore, 32% of respondents said they had listened in the last month to Pandora, but Spotify is a strong second at 18%. iHeartRadio followed with 13% having listened to them and Apple Music only had 8% listening to them in the past month.

Infinite Dial Diagram - Listened in the last month to...

However, 45% of people aged 21-24 year old had listened to Spotify in the past month whereas 6% less had listened to Pandora (45%). Both iHeartRadio and Apple music have 19% of 12-24 year old listening to them in the past month.

It was interesting to see that the top audio brands were those who made their own content, for example Spotify (who make their own playlists) and Pandora (who tailor their music for each individual). The less popular audio brands, such as TuneIn Radio just played different radio stations without input.

This concept can equally be applied to radio stations. The stations that own their own app and regularly post content to it to engage their listeners tend to be more successful. The stations who are just available to listen on other apps (such as TuneIn Radio) tend to be the less successful ones, as they have no additional  content and thus have less means of engaging with their audience.



Recognition of podcasting has continued to grown. The Infinite Dial has shown that familiarity with the term ‘Podcasting’ has gradually increased over the past decade. Now, 6 in 10 Americans 12+ now familiar with this word. This is up by 11% since 2015.

Podcast listening has also been on a gradual increase over the past decade, with 40% of Americans now having ever listened to a podcast, a number which has risen by 10% since 2014.Infinite Dial Diagram - Podcast listening

Nearly one in four Americans 12+ (24%) have listened to a podcast in the last month, an estimated 67 million. Additionally, an average of five podcasts are listened to per week based on weekly podcast listeners.

Smartphones, tablets and portable devices continue to dominate the device used most often to listen to podcasts. Now, 65% of Americans 12+ are using these portable devices to listen to podcasts. This is up by only 1% since last year, but by 10% since 2015.

52% of Americans who have even listened to a podcast say that the location in which they listen to a podcast most often is at home. This is followed by 18% saying their top location is in car/truck and another 12% saying at work.


In Car Media

Radio continues to dominate in car audio sources. 47% of Americans 18+ who has driven/ridden in a car in the last month said the audio source listened to “most” or “all” of the time in primary car was AM/FM radio. This figure is down by 6% since last year. Owned digital music follows AM/FM radio, with 19%.Infinite Dial Diagram - audio source used most in car

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Social Media

Social media usage continues to grow, with now 81% of Americans 12+ using social media (an estimated 226 million).

95% of Americans 12+ are aware of Facebook and 67% use Facebook. One in nine Americans are aware of Twitter although only 23% use it. 88% of Americans are aware of Instagram and one third of Americans are using it.

The younger generation, those aged 12-24 years, use Snapchat the most, with 79% using it. Facebook closely follows, with 76% and Instagram has 73% of Americans 12-24 using the social media site.

The social media brand used the most often based on Americans who currently use any social networking brand is Facebook, with a whopping 62% share. This figure is up by one percent since last year. Snapchat and Instagram both follow in joint second with a 9% share each. Infinite Dial Diagram - Social media brand used most often