Radio has faced a long slow decline in time spent listening (TSL) statistics even as the industry has maintained impressive consumer reach. However, the rise of smart speakers like Amazon Echo and voice assistants such as Alexa are creating a new opportunity for radio to start regaining TSL once again. XAPPmedia published the Amazon Alexa Radio Report last week and the TSL learnings are among the most interesting.
How Smart Speakers Can Lead to TSL Growth
TSL is the metric that measures consumer attention for radio and attention is critical to any business model that relies on advertising. Radio is not alone in facing a new attention challenge. The rise of digital media has eroded consumer attention for print and televised media as well. Those impacts are well documented.
For radio, TSL decline began with the introduction of mass market, portable digital music formats and accelerated with the rise of mobile. Mobile devices greatly expanded the availability of music streaming services which seized the opportunity to shape consumer habits. The result? Just about one-third of audio content listening on mobile goes to on-demand streaming services according to a recent RAJAR study. That is followed by 28% for owned digital music and only 23% for live radio.
The extraordinary statistic comes in the companion chart that shows 67% of TSL on Amazon Echo is today going to radio and on-demand streaming is just 27%. Radio has a more than 2:1 advantage over on-demand streaming in capturing consumer attention for audio content on Amazon Echo. This is a distribution channel where radio has a clear advantage over streaming services by having the ability to promote their brands on the air. And, since consumers don’t need to download a separate app to access their favorite radio station, there is no friction. Add to that the companionship derived from radio’s personality, local connection and branding make it easy for listeners to remember what to say when asking for a station by name.
Not Competing with Owned Music Either
The other interesting finding from the RAJAR study is that owned music (digital tracks) usage doesn’t even register for TSL on Amazon Echo. There are methods for consumers to access their owned music through the Alex voice service, but that involves a good deal of friction for most people. They need to connect their digital music libraries to Amazon and very few people take that step when they can already access music from other sources on the devices. This is another reason why smart speakers like Echo provide such a great opportunity to grow radio TSL once again.
Establishing Habits Will Lead to TSL Growth
On smart speakers today, radio has a substantial initial advantage and it will be important to press that advantage and shape consumer habits. The more consumers use radio today on smart speakers, the more they are likely to do so in the future. Edison Research data further reinforces the potential and opportunity for radio presented by voice assistants in general and smart speakers in particular. Amazon Echo users reported reported listening on the device to:
- AM/FM Radio: 38%
- AM/FM News/Talk: 32%
- AM/FM Sports Radio: 22%
These figures confirm early promise for radio on the platform and also show the opportunity for further audience growth. On top of this, the Edison study reported that 70% of Amazon Echo owners were listening to more audio since they purchased the devices and 18% now use Alexa for the majority of their audio consumption. This data show a prime opportunity to increase TSL. However, it is still early in the consumer habit formation process. The question will be whether radio becomes that habit or streaming services take the lead the way they did in mobile. The winner will likely come down to who invests early to build audience and make their content easily accessible through voice assistants.
Voice gives users access to infinite virtual preset buttons, but in reality consumers are creatures of habit and there are only five that they’ll use over and over — just like the old days with physical preset buttons in the car. Now is a critical time to create an Alexa skill for your station and to promote it heavily on air to make it one of the five voice preset buttons that your listeners will listen to the most.
To learn more about how radio can seize the advantage for TSL through smart speakers or what it takes to succeed in the fastest growing audio distribution channel today, connect with us by clicking below.