iPhone Talk Radio Listeners are More Liberal

An interesting study released by the smartphone app Stitcher reveals that most people who listen to talk radio on their iPhone or Android are listening to liberal content. The study is based on 5 million hours of listening by users of the app. Also, smartphone listeners are more likely to listen to international content.

My thoughts on the that this means are after the jump.

I don’t think these findings should alarm anyone, as the underlying reasons this type of technology usage are not mysteries. I haven’t been able to find additional data from Stitcher that explains which content was coded as “liberal” and which was coded as “conservative.” My guess, though, is that if you compared these two categories, you’d find that much, if not a majority, of the liberal content was much less available from terrestrial radio sources — or from anywhere else other than digital. This means that smartphone users who are fans of conservative programming, like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, etc., are already able to find and consume that type of content from AM or FM radio stations. A smartphone app isn’t necessary.

The fact that smartphone users are heavier consumers of international content seems to prove the reverse side of this argument. You can’t find much international content through traditional terrestrial channels, so consuming it on your smartphone is probably your only choice.

I think demographics are likely another big factor in these results. I suspect that consumers of liberal content on an app like this tend to be younger, more tech savvy, and therefore more willing to seek out the content. Conservative content consumers would tend to be older, less tech savvy, somewhat more passive in their media consumption.

One of the big takeaways from a study like this has to be the increasing flatness of the media landscape. Consumers increasingly see less difference between traditional, institutional media channels like broadcast and new, open channels like podcasting and streaming. The dial is infinite and content matters. Consumers care less about what device delivers the content and more about the nature of the content itself. I don’t think political ideology factors in quite has heavily as this study would reveal, other than to underline the fact that conservative content still tends to dominate the traditional broadcast model, while more liberal content inhabits the digital space.

Some of the findings are shown in this infographic (via Mashable):



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