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At-Home Audio Consumption Rose 44% During COVID-19 Lockdown, Edison Says.

There are only so many old episodes of “Breaking Bad” that someone can re-watch before they have had enough of filling stuck-at-home COVID-19 hours with television. And that proved good for audio mediums like radio and podcasting. Edison Research reports the at-home share of time spent listening to audio increased 44% during the coronavirus disruptions.

Edison said that while overall time spent listening was only slightly lower, there was a considerable shift in where that audio consumption happened. Prior to the stay-at-home orders, 48.5% of all listening occurred at home – a figure it notes has been very consistent since Share of Ear began in 2014. But the latest data revealed the impact of the pandemic. It came back showing 70% of all listening was done at-home during May. All three other locations tracked by Edison, including in-car, at work, and “other” listening spots – each experienced decline compared to before the lockdown.

"It's important to recognize that our survey asks where the respondent is when they are listening to audio -- not what they are doing," said Edison Research Director Laura Ivey. "The shift to ‘work-from-home' for so many, especially office workers who tend to spend a lot of time with audio, is clearly reflected."

The latest Share of Ear data was especially good for podcasters. It showed that podcasting's share of listening jumped significantly, increasing 26% from Edison’s first quarter report to this new update. Edison says during COVID-19 restrictions, 5.4% of all time spent with audio was with podcasts, up from 4.3% in Q1.

“While podcasting share increases with every update, this represents an all-time high for podcast listening share of all audio,” Edison said. “The enormous changes in daily life for so many Americans led to changes in what people are listening to and what device they are using to access their audio.”

That was demonstrated in smart speaker numbers. Edison said smart speakers also hit a new high with its share leaping by more than 40%, albeit from a relatively low base. During the coronavirus restrictions, 5.3% of all time spent with audio was through a smart speaker. That was up from 3.7% in first quarter.

"The movement of so much listening to the home changed the shares of many platforms and devices," said Ivey. "It will be fascinating to see how these numbers continue to develop as American life evolves during and, eventually, after this pandemic period ends."

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