Nielsen's analysis of listening trends in its 45 PPM markets since March 2020 shows weekly cume and AQH (average quarter-hour) persons continuing to move closer to where they were at COVID's earliest stages. From September to October, weekly cume increased 1.4% to 123.2 million, the closest radio's reach has been to March 2020's 124.2 million since the pandemic began. That month-to-month gain is the highest since a 3.2% jump from February to March 2021, following this past winter's surge of COVID cases nationally and the initial vaccine rollout.
The trends, based on total listening among persons 12+ Monday-Sunday 6am-12midnight, also show weekly reach indexing higher compared to October 2020 for most key demos including persons 12+, 18-49 and 35-64, and both Black and Hispanic 12+. AQH trends tell a similar story, with October's total at 7.8 million, matching a May 2020 high since March 2020's 8.1 million with listening indexing higher than a year ago among persons 12+ and 18-49 and Black and Hispanic 12+.
AQH trends by daypart show morning and afternoon drive at their highest levels since COVID. Weekday mornings (Monday-Friday 6-10am) delivered 9.8 million quarter-hour persons in October, the closest it's been to March 2020's 10 million since the pandemic, while afternoons (Monday-Friday 3-7pm) stood at 10.3 million in October, inching nearer to March 2020's 10.7 million. Nights (Monday-Friday 7pm-12midnight) show AQH off by 0.2 million, at 3.3 million for October vs. March 2020's 3.5 million, while weekends have pulled even with March 2020's 6.3 million.
Nielsen's deeper dive into mornings shows both persons 18-34 and 25-54 on the road to recovery, with levels at their highest since March 2020 and up 7% and 6% respectively from September. Also notable are key gains for women 25-54 and teens 12-17 in morning drive, where the former demo is up 7% from September and nearing closer to March 2020 levels, and the latter up 12% from September, when AQH surpassed March 2020's delivery.
While AQH out-of-home listening has yet to hit the 71% of March 2020, October's 69% is even with September and off a bit from July and August's 70%.