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US adults spend a fifth of their daily digital media time with digital audio

The overall adult population will spend an average of 1 hour and 43 minutes (1:43) per day listening to digital audio this year. Among active listeners (monthly users), the figure will leap to 2:20. That’s not much more than last year, however.

  • Dwindling headroom for growth. US adults have increased their daily time with digital audio by leaps and bounds, averaging double-digit annual growth rates throughout the last decade. However, time spent will only tick up by a couple of minutes per year going forward.
  • The leader of the second tier. The US population spends far more time watching TV and digital video than it does anything else. But digital audio is out in front among the secondary ways to spend time with media. Digital audio is also a common choice for multitasking, with passive listening a substantial part of the medium’s time spent figures.
  • Spotify and Pandora popular among users. The long tail of digital audio options means that no individual service claims all that much daily time when calculated against the whole population. But among its active adult user base, Spotify will take up a robust 56 minutes per day this year, and Pandora will take 48 minutes. By comparison, US adult Facebook users will spend just 30 minutes a day on the platform.

Subscription revenues far outstrip ad revenues for digital audio.

Digital audio subscription revenues crossed the $10 billion mark last year and are on track for $15 billion by the end of our forecast period in 2026. Paid subscriptions remain the foundation of the industry.

  • Enduring strong growth. Double-digit percentage increases have become rare for any metric in the digital media world, but the good times aren’t over yet for digital audio subscription revenues. We recently implemented an upward revision for US revenues in 2022 and 2023. This year will see a 15.5% boost (a year ago we had that figure at 6.5%).
  • Increasing its share. Despite a slew of ad-oriented endeavors from the major digital audio platforms, subscriptions continue to drive revenues. In 2018, 57.8% of US digital audio revenues came from subscriptions. This year, the figure will be 64.1%.
  • Audience-approved. Digital audio listeners are increasingly opting to reduce the number of ads they hear. In 2023, there will be 7.1 million more US paid digital audio subscribers than last year, totaling 142.5 million people. This boost, plus a surfeit of price hikes, led to our upward revenue revision.

Read the full report.

This was originally featured in the eMarketer Daily newsletter. For more marketing insights, statistics, and trends, subscribe here.