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Streaming music is one of the most common uses of Smart Speakers, and there’s evidence now that Smart Speaker owners are beginning to default to their devices for all their audio needs. Indeed, Smart Speaker owners are more likely to listen to audio most often on their devices than on AM/FM radio, according to the Spring 2018 Smart Audio Report [download page] from NPR and Edison Research.

This latest study surveyed 909 adults own a Smart Speaker, split into First Adopters (26%) – who have owned their device for at least a year – and the Early Mainstream (74%), who have owned theirs for less than a year.

While that makes the First Adopter sample quite small (n= ~235), it’s interesting to compare the behaviors of the group with those of the Early Mainstream group, who have owned their device for less time.

One of the more interesting results relates to audio listening preferences. First Adopters are more likely to say they listen to audio on their Smart Speaker (25%) most often than on any other device, including smartphones/tablets (23%), speakers connected to smartphones (21%) and AM/FM radio (17%).

By comparison, Early Mainstream users continue to listen most often on their smartphone/tablet (26%), though their Smart Speakers (22%) are close behind.

This suggests that greater time spent with Smart Speakers results in a greater likelihood to default to listening to audio on the device. Again, though, it’s a small sample size and correlation doesn’t equal causation, so it’s too early to draw conclusions.

There is an important related point, though. In a similar survey released last year, NPR and Edison Research found that Smart Speaker owners were listening to their smartphones/tablets most often (28%), followed by AM/FM radio (20%).

So in the space of a year, it seems, Smart Speaker owners have begun to move away from AM/FM radio and towards audio listening on their devices.

(Notably, a recent study found that AM/FM radio listeners were tuning into more radio since obtaining their devices. That may have been due to these devices replacing conventional radios for AM/FM listeners.)

Other Study Highlights

  • Roughly 7 in 10 Smart Speaker owners listen to news on their device, and about half of those listen to at least 2 hours per week.
  • About 1 in 6 Smart Speaker owners listen to podcasts at least nearly every day, if not several times per day.
  • Nine in 10 Smart Speaker owners have requested in the past week that their device play music. Roughly half as many have requested that their device listen to an AM/FM radio station.
  • First Adopters are more likely than Early Mainstream users to use their device to control household devices, and less likely to use it for daily activities such as getting the weather, receiving reminders, and listening to an AM/FM radio station.
  • Some 63% of First Adopters and 70% of Early Mainstream users report listening to more audio since they got their device.

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