The realization that Americans are starting their day – and their morning radio listening – later during the COVID-19 epidemic has been legitimized by new data from Edison Research. According to its ongoing Share of Ear study, people in the U.S. age 13 and older began listening to audio a full 75 minutes later on average, as compared to before the disruptions.
The Share of Ear study, which requires respondents to keep a detailed daily diary of audio usage, shows that pre-COVID-19, the point in the day when 50% of those in the U.S. age 13+ recorded their first entry of their audio day was around 7:15am. But during the second quarter, it wasn’t until 8:30am that half of respondents had recorded any audio usage.
The Q2 data is based on interviews conducted in mid-May, 2020.
“This finding challenges our thinking about how those in the U.S. listen to audio during traditional drive times,” said Edison Research Director Laura Ivey. “With many people staying at home or working from home during Q2, they did not engage with audio as early as they did pre-COVID.”
With traditional morning listening starting later for many Americans, some stations shifted the times of their morning shows. Responding to a daily monitor of consumer sentiment that helps programmers keep stations and personalities aligned with how audiences are thinking, iHeartMedia in April extended the daily air time of more than 65 of its morning shows across the country by at least an extra hour. The move was to accommodate listeners who weren’t getting up as early to drive into work, along with positive listener feedback for the concept and rising consumption of on-demand versions of its morning shows during the COVID-19 crisis.
Hubbard Radio hot AC “101.9 FM The Mix” WTMX Chicago shifted the times for “Eric in the Morning” to 7-11am, for what was described as a one-week experiment, beginning April 13.
As programmers contemplate which changes they made during the pandemic that are worth sticking with, a later morning drive time could be one of them. “This data shows that if Americans continue current work patterns, audio strategies may need to be adjusted,” Ivey added.
Edison makes most of its Share of Ear findings exclusive to subscribers. However the company says it is releasing several interesting data points for the audio industry to consider since the data provides insight into U.S. listener behavior during COVID-19 restrictions.