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Who’s the king of online radio? New report crowns the winner

Online streaming music has been abuzz for years now, but how many people are actually listening? What’s the most popular service?

The short answer is well over a hundred million people in the U.S., with Pandora as the dominant service.

A new report from Edison Research and Triton Digital called “The Infinite Dial 2015” says that 119 million people listen to online radio weekly for an average of 12 hours and 53 minutes, primarily using Pandora (45 percent of users). While 73 percent of users listen to online radio on their smartphone, only 35 percent of users listen to online radio in their car.

RelatedWho picks the best songs? We taste test Pandora, Spotify, Beats Music, Rdio, and iTunes Radio

Online radio is an ever-crowded field, what with established services like Pandora and Spotify competing with more recent players like iHeartRadio, Google Play, iTunes Radio, Rdio, Beats and others. The survey says that Pandora has the highest brand awareness (75 percent) and highest monthly usage (45 percent, 27 percent in last week).

Just behind Pandora are the soon-to-be-combined with Beats platform iTunes Radio (62 percent brand awareness, 16 percent usage), Spotify (just 41 percent brand awareness, but fourth in monthly usage at 13 percent) and iHeart Radio (59 percent brand awareness, 17 percent monthly usage).

It’s worth noting that in terms of paid subscribers, Spotify holds a huge lead over Pandora and other streaming services: the Swedish streaming platform recently passed 15 million paid subscribers, while Pandora’s paid subscribers hover in the three to four million range.

Unsurprisingly, all of the streaming services are most popular in the 12 to 24 age group (54 percent of millenials listened to Pandora, 23 percent listened to Spotify and 20 percent listened to iTunes Radio) and least popular among people 55+ (just 12 percent use Pandora, 1 percent use Spotify).

Looking forward in the streaming music realm, all eyes are on Apple. Their latest moves in beefing up their to-be-released iTunes Radio / Beats medley include snagging BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe and hiring music journalists.

Can they make their new product stick? As Billboard notes, their success will not just be about converting Spotify users. It’s about convincing older people that online radio is worth using — and paying for.