Bridge Ratings Industry Study : In-Car Media Use


For Immediate Release:

Wednesday,, February 7, 2007

Cell Phones, MP3 Players, Video Impacting Radio Listening!

This is Bridge Ratings' update on a study first released in February 2006 - analysis of in-car cell phone use and its potential impact on other in-car listening including that of radio. The study was originally commissioned by a wireless company in 2005 as part of a multi-year consumer study.

Traditional radio's 'safe turf' for decades was its portability - its in-car listening consumption. This year's study has added the component of all in-car entertainment and its impact on the in-car listening experience.

Cell phone pervasiveness continues to be a significant threat to traditional media by cell phone use in vehicles. Top line findings of our national study conducted between August 2006 and January 2007 estimates that in the United States, 75% of the population owned a cell phone in 2006. At the time of the study, U.S. population was estimated at at 300 million, with 225 million cell phone users. In fact, today cell phone technology is the only audio technology that could approach traditional radio's market penetration (currently at 93% or 276 million Americans who listen to terrestrial radio at least once a week).

For the purposes of this study:

  • Only those individuals who spent at least one hour per day commuting in their vehicle were included
  • Actual time-spent-listening to traditional radio was measured against time-spent-talking on cell phones, satellite radio, MP3 in-car use, GPS use, CD and cassette players, and mobile TV viewing.

From our analysis, it was clear that in vehicles in which the radio was being listened to, when cell phones were in use, radio behavior was affected:

  Radio Volume Unchanged Radio Volume Turned Down Radio Turned Off Radio Was Off at Start

During the time when cell phone calls were made or received, attention was placed exclusively on the phone call and not on the radio.

The following charts represent cell phone use and behavior.

Cell phone Use

2006, the U.S. Census estimated that 75% of the U.S. population or just over 225 million people own and use a cell phone. The following chart shows the trend line of cell phone time-spent-talking in-car vs. average radio in-car time-spent-listening.


As more devices become available for in-car use, drivers report that even time-spent-talking has been negatively impacted. Also, this year's study for the first time reflects comments made by our sample that new 2006 state laws regarding in-car cell phone and hands-free use caused them to use their phones in-car slightly less than a year ago.

Impact of in-car cell phone use on all in-car radio listening is a function of longer call-lengths.

In-car use of mobile phones continues to climb with 58% of those interviewed saying they use a cell phone while traveling in a vehicle.

We asked our sample if they use a mobile phone in-car and, if so, how often.

We also asked the sample about their use of various devices in-car. The following chart compares responses from 2004 to those in 2006. Listening to AM/FM radio fell slightly from 96% to 94% during that time. Devices with increased use during that time: cell phones (52%-58%), MP3 Players (4%-15%), GPS systems (4%-12%), DVD players (5%-10%), and Satellite radio (1%-4%). Devices directly impacting AM/FM listening were: cell phones, MP3 players and satellite radio all of which require focused-task use.

When asked "Of all the devices you use in your car, which is the one that you prefer or use most often?" Traditional radio still succeeds in dominating all other in-car devices with 73% of all sample members.


Sample size: 2200 persons 18+. Sample error: +/- 2.2%



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