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RISMEDIA, April 12, 2010—The percentage of Americans age 12 and older who have a profile on one or more social networking websites has reached almost half (48 %) of the population in 2010–double the level from two years ago (24% in 2008), according to the new national survey from Arbitron Inc. and Edison Research, The Infinite Dial 2010: Digital Platforms and the Future of Radio.

The new study also reveals that consumer use of social networking sites is not just a youth phenomenon. While nearly eight in ten teens (78%) and 18-24 year olds (77%) have personal profile pages, almost two-thirds of 25-34 year olds (65%) and half of 35-44 year olds (51%) also now have personal profile pages. The study also shows that 30% of Americans age 12 and older, who have a profile on at least one social networking website, use those sites “several times a day” compared with only 18% one year ago.

“The use of social networking sites has expanded beyond younger consumers, with substantial numbers of Americans over the age of 35 now using social media,” said Bill Rose, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Arbitron Inc.

“Social networking has become a part of mainstream media behavior,” said Tom Webster, Vice President of Strategy and Marketing, Edison Research.

Since 1998, this notable research series has reported on and analyzed consumer use of the Internet, digital platforms and their impact on radio.

“Americans continue to hold radio in high regard, with nearly eight in ten saying they plan to listen to as much AM/FM radio in the future as they do now–despite advances of technology” said Arbitron’s Bill Rose.

“Younger consumers show interest in radio on mobile phones,” said Tom Webster from Edison Research. “More than four in ten mobile phone owners age 12 to 24 say they would listen to FM radio more if a tuner were built into those phones.”

Key findings include:

-Nearly one in four Americans has listened to audio from an iPod or other MP3 player connected to a car stereo: Although consumers often have to deal with myriad adapters and other barriers to in-car listening, 54% of iPod/MP3 player owners have listened to their device in their car; this equates to 24% of all persons age 12 and older having listened to an iPod, iPhone or other MP3 player while connected to a car stereo.

-Three in ten 12-24 year olds are “very interested” in online radio in the car and on mobile devices: Among those age 12 to 24, 30% are “very interested” in listening to online radio in-car, while 28% are “very interested” in listening to online radio on mobile devices.

-Consumers say radio station websites are improved but TV and print sites are leading the local battle: Nearly half of people age 12 and older give credit to radio for improvements in their websites. Forty- eight percent say that radio station websites have gotten more interesting compared to 17% believing them to be worse or less interesting. However, monthly visitation to radio station websites (16%) among persons 12+ lags visitation to local TV and local newspaper websites.

-The Internet passes TV as most essential medium in Americans’ lives: For the first time, more Americans say the Internet is “most essential” to their lives when given a choice along with television, radio, and newspapers; 42% chose the Internet as “most essential,” with 37% selecting television, 14% choosing radio, and 5% newspapers. While television still leads among those over the age of 45, Internet dominates among younger persons age 12 to 44.

-More than six in ten households with Internet access have a Wi-Fi network at home: Sixty-two percent of homes with Internet access have wireless network set-ups in their homes, more easily enabling the consumption of digital media in any room of their home, as more and more devices feature built-in Wi-Fi.

-Texting has become a daily activity for nearly half of all mobile phone owners: Nearly half of mobile phone owners (45%) age 12 and older text multiple times a day. Three quarters of teens (75%) and persons age 18 to 24 (76%) text multiple times a day compared with nearly two thirds (63%) of 25-34 year olds; and four in ten (42%) 35-44 year olds and 45-54 year olds (37%).

-Broadband access has leveled and growth has stabilized for some digital platforms: Growth of residential broadband has leveled off, with 84% of homes with Internet access having broadband connections. The slower growth of residential broadband is associated with little year-over-year change in weekly usage of online radio (17%) and online video (29%). The study suggests that expanded use of mobile devices and in-car Internet may spark the next wave of growth.

For more information, visit www.arbitron.com.

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