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Streaming services become largest medium for audio listening, new study finds

A new consumer research study by Futuresource Consulting has found that streaming services are now the largest medium for audio consumption, as traditional FM/AM and DAB radio falls behind into third place. 55% of audiences stream audio for at least one hour a week, while those who listen to the radio for the same amount of time fell to 53%. 

The firm’s new Audio Tech Lifestyles report dives into consumer behaviours surrounding audio and music, broken down by core demographics.  

Audiobooks and podcasts retain pandemic-era boost 

“Audience levels for podcasts and audiobooks soared during the pandemic. Encouragingly, engagement across the market is still riding high,” says James Duvall, Principal Analyst and Head of Entertainment at Futuresource Consulting. “The proportion of people engaged in these categories remain strong and at a similar level to that of free/paid-for streamed online radio.” 

Globally, consumers listen to podcasts at a slightly higher level than audiobooks. The exception to this rule can be seen in China, where audiobooks forge ahead with 85% of respondents using them each week, compared to 83% using podcasts. 

Gen-Z dominate audio consumption 

Gen-Z audiences, categorised as those aged between 16-25, have earned their stripes as the most avid audio consumers across most formats. The demographic takes the lead in streaming services, packaged media (including CD and vinyl), music videos and podcasts – although Millennials are most likely to listen to streamed online radio. 

Vinyl maintains appeal 

“Audio technology has come along in leaps and bounds since vinyl dominated store shelves, but the format continues to appeal to a broad demographic of consumers,” says Duvall. “In our study, we split vinyl buyers into two camps, the ‘regular’ and the ‘casual’ shopper. The Regular is those who purchase six or more vinyl in a year, while casual buyer purchases less than six copies. In the past year, we found that regular buyers make up 27% of those surveyed, while casual buyers are at 13%. 

“Vinyl benefits from an army of dedicated enthusiasts. In fact, just over half of all vinyl buyers don’t listen to all their purchased records, and 18% of casual buyers don’t even own a turntable. For many, vinyl is a collector’s item.” 

Study reveals where consumers like to listen 

Futuresource’s study also pinpointed the home as the top location to listen, with at-home consumption across music, podcasts and audiobooks sitting at 56%. 

“We tracked fifteen different hardware formats, and when in the home, headphones remain the key device to use when listening to music. When listening to the radio, the smart speaker edges ahead. 

“Unsurprisingly, built-in radio is the preferred way to listen to music in the car, with 24% of UK respondents and 26% of German respondents listening this way. In Asia, listening through a smartphone via Bluetooth leads the way with 26% of Japanese audiences using this device and a significant 34% in China.” 

To enquire about the data discussed in this article, please contact 

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James Duvall

About the author

James Duvall

James Duvall joined Futuresource as the Principal Analyst for Entertainment in November 2022. He is responsible for the delivery of all consumer research and projects across Home Entertainment, covering over twenty regions for Futuresource’s Video Insight reports, the bi-annual Living with Digital survey, and the bi-annual Music Streaming report. Before Futuresource, James spent six years leading the insight and research programme at the British Association of Screen Entertainment and the Digital Entertainment Group International (DEGI), building upon his wealth of experience within insight teams for US Studios.

Olivia Lowden

About the author

Olivia Lowden

Olivia Lowden is responsible for the long-form content, press, and partnerships at Futuresource. Prior to her career at Futuresource, she completed an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, demonstrative of her lifelong love of words.

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