Arbitron Updates Benchmark Infinite Dial Study

Last week, Arbitron and Edison Research released their updated yearly survey of radio and associated digital platforms, The Infinite Dial. It’s an extremely comprehensive study that has over the years become the benchmark of the continued redistribution of radio’s audience onto alternative digital audio platforms.

For the first time, this year’s study finds the Internet surpassing TV as the most essential medium for those surveyed. 42% of those surveyed stated that the Internet is most essential to their life, compared to TV (39%), radio (14%), and newspapers (5%). The number of people that claimed the Internet more than doubled from a year ago. But even though the headline for this data point is that the Internet beats TV as most essential for the first time, it was not TV that lost a lot of ground – only 3% fewer people claimed TV than last year. Radio and newspapers were the big losers, each losing close to 50% of the share they had a year ago when respondents were asked this question.

In part, this trend identifies a shift to online listening. More and more Americans are listening to online radio and are also relying first on the Internet for music discovery. Another first this year – among 12-24 year olds, the Internet is now the place they turn first to hear new music. 62% of 12-24 year olds go online to hear new music, a number that has doubled in the past year, while just 32% turn to radio first. While radio still wins that data point with respondents of all ages, it lost a lot of ground in one year. My guess is that by next year the Internet will be the first source of new music for all ages in this study.

These are conclusions that more sharply than ever identify that radio’s audience is rapidly and relentlessly moving online. This year’s study pegs Internet radio ‘s monthly audience at 70 million – 27% of the population.

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