Why the Shift to Smartphones is a Threat to Radio

Edison Research presented some new findings about the relationship between smartphones and radio listening–and they point to a sobering future for terrestrial broadcasters.

The current estimate is that about 76% of the US population 12 and over has a smartphone. Yes, 93% of the popular reaches for their radios every week, but if you break that down, the same percentage of the population–93%–aged 12-24 reach for their smartphone every week.

Let’s take that apart further. The study says that 68% of people aged 13-24 listen to audio on their smartphone on any given day. Compare that to 38% of those 25-54 and 11% 55-plus.

Now look at this graph. The more smartphones are sold, the higher monthly online radio listening–and that means audio, not just AM/FM. To reiterate, they use their phone for listening, not a standard radio which can’t offer streaming, podcasts and all the other stuff a smartphone can.


Bottom line is that the young generation considers their smartphones to be their entertainment hub for…well, almost all entertainment.

More at RAIN and All Access.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38457 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

2 thoughts on “Why the Shift to Smartphones is a Threat to Radio

  • Sounds to me (no pun intended) that the terrestrial radio crowd would be best to convince smart phone makers to activate the radio antennas already built into smartphones by law. Then the radio folks can at least attempt to get some ears back.

  • Agreed. This is up to the radio folk — they could consider forging partnerships with the existing streaming services or engage with the smartphone manufacturers.

    My daughter actually preferred to listen to FM radio when she had a phone with an active antenna. I suspect that part of that came from exercising some responsibility around data caps, but it was also in part because she truly enjoyed what she was hearing on the radio.


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