Does HomePod Matter to Radio?

Apple has finally jumped into the smart speaker market. While early reactions about HomePod are mixed at best, we’d hardly count Apple out at this early stage. At any rate, nearly all agree that HomePod is, at the very least, a step forward in sound quality among smart speakers.

While our newest NuVoodoo Ratings Prospects Study fielded before the roll out of the HomePod, the study shows that Smart Speakers did very, very well this past holiday season. Our sample of over 3,000 respondents, ages 14-54, from all PPM markets, says fully 1/3 now have a smart speaker at home.

The data we shared last year showed that many of these smart speakers are being placed in the bedroom. And we reason that these bedroom smart speakers have the potential to reignite connections with morning radio – as long as stations take the time to train listeners how to access their programming (and then ask for the order and remind people to listen at home … before they get to the car). Let’s be honest, radio has taken a back seat to TV at home in the morning for many years. Here’s a new device that can connect people to radio while they’re still at home.

Last year’s data had shown that many smart speaker owners have figured out how to listen to local radio with their new devices. This newest data shows that they’re even using it at levels to rival digital pureplays, like Spotify and Pandora.

With more months of promotion and purchase, we’re more confident in the numbers of respondents saying they have one of the Google smart speakers and we’re eager to see if there are significant differences between the tasks people ask of an Amazon device compared to a Google device. If anything, those with Google devices appear to be spending even more time listening to audio using their smart speaker – including radio programming.

Of course, listening to the online streams of radio stations can show up lots of flaws. It’s critical that radio commits to having programming that sounds great, no matter how listeners connect. Online should sound as good as over the air, every time.

Given Apple CEO Tim Cook’s promise that HomePod would “reinvent home music,” it’ll be important for radio operators to pay attention to teaching listeners how to get Siri to play their stations. More importantly, with this third tech titan in the game, it’s an even bigger opportunity to reinvent home radio listening.