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Edison Research and Triton Digital released The Infinite Dial 2021, which show the results of a study to explore Americans’ use of digital platforms and new media. The findings reflect data gathered from 1,507 people via telephone interviews conducted Jan. 4–Feb. 2.
People aged 12 and older were selected via Random Digit Dial sampling through both landline phones and mobile phones. The survey was offered in both Spanish and English. Data was weighted to national 12+ United States population estimates.
The survey found that podcasting continues its significant and steady growth while its overall audience is more diverse than ever. Also, smart speaker ownership and online audio consumption showed notable gains in this year’s survey, noted the survey organizers.
Approximately eighty million Americans – 28% of the U.S. 12+ population – are now weekly podcast listeners, a 17% increase over 2020. The overall monthly podcast listening audience is now more diverse than ever: 57% of monthly podcast listeners are white, 16% Latino, 13% African American, 4% Asian, and 10% of some other background.
Sixty-two percent of the U.S. 12+ population, around 176 million people, are now weekly online audio listeners, an all-time high for this category.
One-third (33%) of Americans 12+, approximately 94 million people, now own a smart speaker, an increase of 22% from last year and nearly five times what it was in 2017 (7%). Of those who own a smart speaker, 34% have three or more of the devices in their household.
The Infinite Dial 2021 marks a significant year for the study, as the media measurement was done almost entirely during a time of quarantine or some level of restriction due to Covid-19. The historical data in The Infinite Dial provides pre-Covid trending capability.
“In the near quarter of a century that the Infinite Dial has been the survey of record for digital audio, the space has never been more vibrant, or more diverse, than it is today,” said Tom Webster, senior vice president at Edison Research. “Podcasting, in particular, has made great gains with women and non-White audiences, and truly reflects the diversity of America.”
“We are pleased to partner with Edison Research to unveil the results of the 2021 U.S. Infinite Dial,” said John Rosso, president of Market Development at Triton Digital. “The results of this year’s study are exceptionally interesting, as they provide insight into Americans’ consumption of radio, streaming audio, podcasts, and usage of smart speakers during a time of unprecedented disruption in our everyday lives.”
The survey also found that 88% of Americans 12+ own a smartphone, another year of growth from 85% last year. Tablet (51%) and smartwatch (18%) ownership have plateaued. TikTok usage surged, particularly among 12–34-year-olds. For the first time in the history of the study, Facebook is no longer named as the social media brand used most often by a majority of social media users, as 47% say it is the platform they use most (down from 54% the year before and 62% in 2016). Fifty-one percent of those age 12+ “frequently” or “sometimes” listen to audio with other people, with this percentage rising to 69% among those aged 12–34.