Minority Report: the Smartphone “Pre-crime”

Remember the movie Minority Report? The chief of “pre-crime” John Anderton would work out who is going to commit a murder in the future and arrest them before they did it.

Well I’m no John Anderton but I believe a murder in the future may have already been committed by the Smartphone. The victim: the physical radio.

 I’m not talking about radio as a concept I’m talking about the physical device. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it IS a thing.

The evidence we’ve got is screaming out at us – radio content makers have an opportunity to pre-empt a change in the habits of it’s listeners and capitalise on it. The Smartphone may kill the physical radio but radio will survive and right now it’s a race to thrive.

Let’s go through the evidence that we already have…

1: In data just released by Nielsen for Q1 2016 on media consumption by device in the US— smartphone listening has sky-rocketed…

More than 84.43 million adults listened to audio streaming on smartphones for almost 8.34 billion gross minutes. The same quarter of 2015 had a reach of just 67.62 million adults and 4.39 billion minutes. The younger demographic was responsible for much of that spike, with a smartphone audio streaming audience that grew from 28.05 million to 34.65 million, and gross minutes up from 2.2 billion to 4.16 billion.

2: Edison’s “Share of Ear” study from March this year showed that the Smartphone accounts for 19% of ALL audio listening.

3: That number is increased to 35% when looking at the 13–34 age bracket:

4: 68% or two-thirds among those aged 13–24 are listening to audio on their smartphone every day. And not far behind, is the full-family demographic of 25–54 at almost 4 out of 10 (38%) listening daily to audio on their smartphone.

OK so that proves that the smartphone is facilitating at least 1 in 5 of all listens and that the younger demographics are pushing this statistic higher over time.
Now if you look at the growth in “audio listening via the smartphone” evidence in conjunction with the actual listening habits of smartphone listeners it gets a bit more interesting for radio.
Just 9% of ALL smartphone listens are to terrestrial radio.

Even if you look outside of Smartphone listening — the evidence is very clear. In March of this year, Streaming Audio overtook AM/FM Radio as the most listened to form of audio on any device for 18–24 year olds in the US for the first time. You only have to be 16 to get your probationary car license…

Spotify isn’t available on a radio and I’d wager that most of these listens are coming from a smartphone, as is the trend with Podcasting in the States. The latest data has shown us a shift from 42 to 71% of podcast listening coming from a smartphone over the past three years.

Finally, let’s look at the huge shift from traditional TV to video-on-demand services like Netflix. By studying or at least acknowledging this trend toward “on-demand” media consumption, it follows that “Audio On-Demand” or Podcasting is the most obvious answer for radio content makers. It’s at least worth thinking about what your strategy is.
The younger demographics are telling us that they want to listen to the audio of their choice on their phone when they want to. Right now, less than 10% of audio streaming on the smartphone is dedicated to AM/FM.

We haven’t even started talking about the connected car yet either…

Again, I don’t believe that radio will ever die – however, I believe that the future of Radio will be a hybrid between live and on-demand. I also believe that this hybrid will be powered by that little device in every single one of your current listeners pockets. There is a huge opportunity here.

About: Mitch Secrett

Mitch worked in radio full-time for 6 years, he now works for a company whose sole mission is to help radio stations transition into the future of audio consumption. If you work for a radio station check out Omny Studio.  Click here for more.

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