Edison Research has been tracking all forms of “linear” audio (radio over the air, radio streams, Pandora’s free radio service, satellite radio, etc.) and comparing it to all forms of on-demand audio content (paid streaming, podcasts, owned music, etc.) in our Share of Ear® service for nearly a decade.
As you can see in the graphic below, our latest quarterly report is the moment when on-demand passed linear consumption for the first time. As of Q2, 2023, 50.3% of all daily audio time consumed by those in the U.S. age 13+ is on on-demand platforms and 49.7% is on linear platforms.
At the end of 2015, a scant seven and one-half years ago, the margin between linear listening and on-demand listening was 38 percentage points. But drop by drop, quarter by quarter and year by year, the margin was erased, and now on-demand leads.
The growth of podcast listening is part of the reason for this change. Podcasting has attuned hundreds of millions of listeners worldwide to the habit of choosing the right audio content at the right time and hitting play. The same goes for music – once people got used to the ability to choose a specific song or playlist, and of course skip songs – it became hard for many to go back to the ‘lean back’ experience of listening to radio or linear streams.
This is not a situation where on-demand will grow forever and someday linear will go to zero. Some people prefer linear listening, and even those who mostly prefer on-demand consume at least some linear content. But it is about as safe a bet as one can make that the trendlines in the graph above will continue well out into the future.