Tuesday, March 3, 2015


One of my favorite blogs – RADIO CONFIDENTIAL – has posted an item about a just-released research study that shows AM/FM is by far the leading choice for audio entertainment in vehicles.  Here is the top-line chart:

The study, done by Ipsos for iHeartMedia, was conducted in January 2015 with a nationally representative sample of 1,036 adults 18+.

Despite the hype about “connected cars” old-school media is preferred by most of the respondents.  They only media platform that challenges AM/FM is the CD Player. Of broadcasters, AM/FM has 4 times the use as Sirius/XM and 12 times the use as HD Radio. Quoting from the study:

The in-car AM/FM radio is still a universally known audio platform – and its ease of use, convenience, features and familiarity continue to make it a top consumer choice for in-car audio.

Demand for digital streaming services such as Pandora, iHeartRadio and Spotify continue to grow but their usage is a fraction of AM/FM and the good old CD Player.

Other key findings:

• 91% of those surveyed prefer physical AM/FM radio buttons and controls built into the car dashboard, rather than dashboard menus and apps.

• 80% of respondents chose AM/FM car radio as the top option for their car’s entertainment system, followed by the CD player at 68%, satellite radio at 45%, and a streaming music service at 34%.


It is important to get beyond all-or-nothing thinking about the performance of audio platforms.  AM/FM use is falling; digital platform use is growing. In the here and now, AM/FM radio is king of the car.

I am impressed with the showing by Sirius/XM.  Their penetration continues to slowly grow.  Their business model seems to be working.  Anecdotally, my friends who are Sirius/XM subscribers continue to love the service.

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