NPR Says Alexa Listening Has Risen 242% In Just 3 Months

NPR chief marketing officer Meg Goldthwaite shared data today with MediaPost showing that Alexa listening for the broadcaster’s live streaming rose 242% between November 2017 and February 2018. That was during a period of time that NPR data show overall smart speaker ownership increased in the U.S. by about one-third from 12% to over 16% of the population. In November, Alexa accounted for 3.9% of all NPR live streaming. By February, that number had risen to 13.3%.

The Revenge of Radio

At the Smart Voice Summit in Paris Radio France’s Pippa Rimmer said that voice and smart speakers represent the revenge of radio. After many years of digital focus on written and video content, voice assistants put audio back into the spotlight. That is clearly where radio shines. Meg Goldthwaite made a similar comment to MediaPost.

Four or five years ago, people were saying radio was dead. It was difficult to even find one.

NPR’s Alexa data show how voice assistants and smart speakers can quickly reverse radio’s decline. Radio has continued to maintain the broadest audience among all mass media, reaching over 90% of consumers each week. However, over the past several years, radio’s time spent listening has decreased. Alexa and Google Assistant have the type of frictionless access that is already re-introducing radio into the home and on mobile devices. The most promising news is that younger listeners are the fastest growing segment listening to radio on Alexa and that has been the demographic that has been hardest for radio to maintain due to competition from music streaming services, video, games and messaging. Goldthwaite added:

The largest gains have been in the younger segment.

Voicebot data also confirms that music and radio listening are among the most popular smart speaker use cases. Music listening was the most frequent use case and radio listening was fifth.

NPR is Showing a Path for Radio Growth

NPR holds a privileged position in the Alexa ecosystem. It is the default radio news provider when a user says, “Alex, give me the news.” It also has its own Alexa skill for NPR One and a position in TuneIn. However, the listenership rise closely parallels other data Voicebot has reviewed for radio stations during the 2017 Q4 and 2018 Q1 periods. Smart speakers represent a unique opportunity for radio to increase time spent listening in the home and for consumers on the go.

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