Edison Feature

More People are Choosing Smart Speakers to Listen to Audio Content While Stuck at Home: Report

A growing percentage of U.S. smart speaker owners are turning to their devices to listen for information and entertainment during the current COVID-19 pandemic, according to the new most recent Smart Audio Report published by NPR and Edison Research. Smart speakers are a more significant source of people’s news and entertainment, especially younger adults.

Sound Source

As many people stay home to prevent spreading or catching the novel coronavirus, how they listen to audio content has shifted. As the chart above indicates, more smart speaker owners are using their devices as the first choice to consume audio content. Smartphones and tablets are still the favored choice for a plurality, but the 6% drop from last spring is notable. Smart speakers aren’t the only beneficiary, either radios and computers also saw a slight uptick as the preferred audio outlet. The change makes sense considering that people are home a lot more and able to use stationary devices more easily than they could while commuting. The drop in commute time is also likely a culprit in the dip for mobile devices.

Entertain and Inform

Smart speaker owners are listening more to their devices for both news and entertainment relative to before the spread of COVID-19. The survey found 36% of smart speaker owners are using their device more for music and entertainment, and 35% are using it more for news now than before the lockdowns began. Both news and entertainment have a similar breakdown by age, with younger adults more likely to be listening via their smart speaker. A little over half of the adults under 35 say they are listening to music and news more with their smart speaker. In comparison, about a third of those between 35 and 54, and slightly fewer than a fifth of those 55 and older say they are listening to their smart speaker more now than before the spread of the virus.

That people are hungry for audio content, through smart speakers or otherwise, matches other reports, including a recent Nielsen survey that found a third of Americans are listening to the radio more now, That includes all varieties of media players, including smart speakers. British marketing firm IAB UK reported the same for the United Kingdom, along with an accompanying growth in audio content creation.

“Our daily routines may have changed, but our need for easy access to reliable journalism remains critical – even more so than ever before, ” NPR vice president of new platform partnerships Joel Sucherman said. “We see that in listening patterns and the continued growth in the number of devices Americans have in their homes.”


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