The Infinite Dial 2021

by Triton Digital

On Thursday, March 11th, John Rosso (President of Market Development at Triton Digital) and Tom Webster (SVP, Edison Research) unveiled the results of The Infinite Dial 2021®.

Eighty Million Americans Listen to Podcasts Weekly with Most Diverse Audience Ever; Online Audio Listening and Smart Speaker Ownership Show Continued Growth 

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Along with podcasting, smart speaker ownership and online audio consumption showed notable gains in this year’s survey. 

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.” 
Other findings include:  

  • 88% of Americans 12+ own a smartphone, another year of growth from 85% last year. Tablet (51%) and smartwatch (18%) ownership have plateaued, meaning the smartphone is by far most popular device for media consumption.
  • TikTok usage surged, particularly among 12-34 year-olds. Forty-four percent of 12-34 year-olds are using the service, up from 25% last year – an increase of 76%.  
  • 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). 
  • One in five Americans 12+ have now watched a live stream of a videogame, and 10% broadcast their own games. 
  • 51% of those age 12+ “frequently” or “sometimes” listen to audio with other people, with this percentage rising to 69% among those age 12-34.
  • The percentage of Americans 18+ who have driven or ridden in a car in the last month decreased from 87% in 2020 to 83% this year.

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About The Infinite Dial 
The Infinite Dial® study uses the gold standard of nationally representative survey research—a random probability telephone sample comprised of both mobile phones and landlines— of all Americans ages 12 and older. Findings from the Infinite Dial have become the barometer on digital audio and other digital media consumption, and is widely used and quoted by broadcasters, podcasters, online radio publishers, ad agencies, and the financial community.  

How the study was conducted 
A total of 1,507 persons were interviewed to explore Americans’ use of digital platforms and new media. From January 4th through February 2nd, 2021, telephone interviews were conducted with respondents age 12 and older who were selected via Random Digit Dial (RDD) sampling through both landline phones and mobile phones. The survey was offered in both Spanish and English. Data was weighted to national 12+ U.S. population estimates.