The Pew Research Center recently released their annual update on the State of the News Media.
Not surprisingly, the main theme is the continuing shift of news consumption to digital, particularly mobile, platforms. Americans are rapidly adopting smart phones and tablets and using them to access news content. Radio news did slightly increase audience and revenue (both up 1%), but most of radio's revenue growth was in digital platforms – a 15% increase in online and mobile. Pew reports that: "As many as 38% percent of Americans now listen to audio on digital devices each week, and that is projected to double by 2015, while interest in traditional radio...is on the decline."
The big frontier for digital audio consumption is the car. Pew notes that two-thirds of traditional radio listening occurs away from home, much of that in cars. But, increasingly people are using cell phones to listen to online-only radio in their cars –11% in 2011, up from 6% in 2010. This behavior is most common among young people – 19% of 18-24 year olds streamed Pandora in their cars in the previous month. Car manufacturers will be making it even easier to stream audio in-car by installing technology to access the internet in automobiles (e.g. Ford's SYNC AppLink which will include NPR News). Taken together, it is clear that the in-car listening experience will be changing substantially in the coming years.
For more details on the trends in all sectors of the news media, read the Pew Research Center's report, The State of the News Media 2012.
Susan Leland is the Research Manager for NPR's Corporate Sponsorship and Development.