Voice assistants, visual audio and Canadian listening trends: This Week in Podcasting

Voice-enabled devices, visual audio and radio-versus-online listening habits are the focus of this week’s podcast updates -  two of these come from the UK, and there's new listening data from my home and native land of Canada, too!




RadioPlayer and Global took a deep dive into the use of Alexa - the "voice assistant” that comes built into Echo, Amazon’s voice-controlled AI speaker. Google Home is competing with Amazon in the marketplace now, and Apple just announced their (as usual, more expensive) entry into the market with HomePod.

This study looks just at Alexa use in the United Kingdom, but I think there are some useful insights in terms of audience behaviour and intent that would benefit content creators and advertisers, and could be extrapolated out beyond the specific device and location this study focuses on. There’s helpful info about who uses it, what people listen to, what room the device is in, how it compares to smartphone use and lots more.


  • Two thirds of users see the device as more human than just technology (and refer to it as “her”!)
  • They predict 40% household penetration of voice-controlled smart devices by 2018 (and there are predictions of 75% by 2020).
  • Radio listening is massively dominant on the Amazon Echo platform, although there are lots of other uses, too

Getting Vocal: How voice-activated devices are increasing radio listening and elevating audio branding


A couple of studies by Edison and Nielsen have come out recently looking at the listening habits of Canadians, which we can now contrast with our neighbours to the south. There are some differences in the marketplace (no Pandora in Canada, and iHeartRadio and RadioPlayer are brand new here), so that accounts for some of it. I also believe that we often see trends in the US replicate themselves in Canada, with a bit of a lag. These studies actually have differing results, too - but I welcome any opportunity to see Canadian data, so I’m sharing this with you.


  • Edison report says Canadians’ share of listening time to AM/FM radio is at 61%, compared to 50% in the US.
  • Edison report claims a 9% share for online streaming, but Neilsen puts it at 26%, with much higher results for millennials
  • Edison report says average daily audio consumption in Canada is 4 hours, 11 minutes, and podcasting is only 3% (7.5 minutes/day)

Read the blog by kowchmedia:

Share of Ear Study: radio listening vs streaming audio in Canada




Video goes viral - this should not come as a surprise. Audio has had a much tougher time in the digital age. Along came WNYC last year, releasing a pretty cool new tool called Audiogram that made it easy to convert a digital audio clip to a social media-friendly video. They made it open source, so BBC picked up where they left off and made some enhancements. This is pretty geeky stuff (in a good way), so it’s more for tech-friendly content producers than for pure podcast fans. Heads up CBC - maybe there’s something you can use here, too! I think it’s great that organizations are sharing their work and adding innovations, all in the name of the common good - to promote the medium and expose great content to more people.


  • BBC integrated their internal systems as well as Slack to make the tool more useful
  • They used transcription technology to make it easy for producers to edit the text on the video
  • They made the design customizable for different shows/brands, which was a double-edged sword


Visualising Audio: BBC News Labs’ Adaptation of the Audiogram Generator


That’s it for this week. If you have any comments, please let me know. I’d love to know if this is helpful to you, or if you’d like to see other kinds of podcast info roundups in the future!