The Expanding Audioverse

Takeaways from the 2018 Infinite Dial [Infographic]

Photo by Bryan Goff on Unsplash

The latest Infinite Dial is now out, confirming that the audioverse keeps on expanding. More people are consuming audio in more ways. But before we talk about what’s up, let’s talk about what’s down: social.

Social is down for the first time in Infinite Dial history with usage sliding from 80% of the 12+ pop to 77%, and Facebook usage down from 67% to 62%.

While we may have hit peak Facebook, there is still room to grow for digital audio platforms thanks to new tech, better accessibility, and greater content choice. The possibilities for audio lovers are now seemingly infinite. We break down the numbers and trends you’ll be seeing everywhere.

Consumers are adopting smart speakers…fast

Smart speakers (and voice assist tech in general) aren’t going away. Edison’s current tally of homes with a smart speaker is now at 51 million. While that may only represent 18% of homes, this number was 7% just a year ago.

Smart speaker adoption is now growing faster than smartphones. And just like how smartphones brought radio to our pockets, smart speakers are bringing audio into homes. In 10 years, the number of radios in the home has decreased — from a mean of 2.9 to 1.6. Despite this decline, smart speaker owners are consuming just as much audio as ever while getting ready for work, cooking, or just chilling with family.

Another recent Edison study reveals smart speaker owners spend almost 2 hours with radio a day, nearly identical to the U.S. population. But they are also learning how to use their new gadgets to listen to audio streams and their favorite podcasts. As voice technology matures, there’s opportunity to make finding the content consumers want to hear as seamless as possible.

Connectivity is shaping in-car media

When it comes to in-car entertainment, AM/FM remains king thanks to its accessibility and familiarity. Among all audio sources used in the car by adults 18+, AM/FM has held steady at 82%.

However, online radio and podcasts have made notable gains in this space thanks to greater connectivity. When it comes to smartphone owners, 44% have streamed music in their car — a number that exponentially increased over past 8 years. Podcasts are also catching on in the car. The Infinite Dial has only tracked this stat for two years, but it has risen from 19% to 23% in 2018, edging over Satellite Radio for the first time.

Streaming is go-to for millions

Online audio has demonstrated 18 years of strong and consistent growth. In fact, monthly online audio listening has tripled in this decade alone. Today, 180 million (64%) Americans have tuned into their favorite AM/FM radio stream or pureplay station in the past month — consuming a variety of ad-supported and subscription-based audio platforms.

When it comes to the streaming target, Gen Z remains the largest representative group with 88% of Americans 12–24 listening monthly. But the number of adults 25–54 listening is rapidly catching up, growing from 70% to 73% in the past year.

160 million have made online audio a weekly habit, spending 13 hours and 40 minutes a week with their favorite platforms. While time spent is down, this is balanced by the increase in listeners and still represents well over a hundred billion listening minutes a week. We wonder if this drop in time spent with streaming has gone to podcasts at all? Which leads us to…

More pod lovers with more to love

After enjoying some major media visibility in 2017, podcast awareness saw a nice boost from 60% to 64% in 2018. The gap between those aware of what podcasts are and those who have converted to regular listening is not getting smaller as we hoped. However, the audience of now devoted fans is not only getting bigger, but going deeper.

Monthly podcast listening is now at a quarter of the 12+ population, continuing it’s steady growth from 67 million to 73 million year-over-year and has more than doubled in just 5 years. Looking closer at monthly listeners, another important gap is finally closing in. The share of women who report being monthly listeners has grown from 21% to 24%, while men stayed flat at 27%.

The biggest headline to note though is the number of podcasts being consumed each week. Turns out podcast listeners really love their podcasts. The average is now up to 7 per week a big jump from 5 last year. Not only are they carving out the time to listen to more podcasts, but 80% of listeners are consuming most, if not all of the episodes.


Audio lovers are out there and are finding new ways to connect with their favorite content. They are more engaged at more times throughout their busy days — and more importantly — when they aren’t looking at their screens. cabana’s arsenal of advanced targeting capabilities and custom lifestyle-driven networks lets your brand deliver the right message to the audioverse at the right time.

Keep this snapshot of our key takeaways from the 2018 Infinite Dial handy or take a deep dive into all the numbers and get the full report here.


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