Podcast Listening During Pandemic Has Grown Among Radio’s Core Listeners.


There’s more evidence that podcasts are helping people get through the coronavirus lockdowns. A new survey of radio listeners finds podcast consumption has grown. Jacobs Media says 12% of those surveyed said they’re listening to podcasts more than in the past. And while 4% said they’re listening to fewer podcasts, among this group of radio listeners the on-demand format is a net winner.


In fact, six weeks after Jacobs first surveyed listeners from March 31-April 2 about how the pandemic was affecting them, audio showed the largest media usage increases. “It’s a really, really positive story,” Jacobs Media President Fred Jacobs said Wednesday. Meanwhile, most television viewing, apart from Netflix, is declining.



The survey also found that some radio listeners are ramping up the volume of their podcast listening. Even among this radio-centric crowd, 9% of those Jacobs Media surveyed said they had increased their podcast consumption. That’s more than 7% who said in April they were listening to “a lot” more radio station-produced podcasts.



The findings are from an online survey of 16,004 radio listeners in the U.S. and Canada, fielded from May 12-14 in association with the Radio Advertising Bureau. Respondents were invited to take the survey by a participating station, referred to as a “home station,” whose loyal listener database they belong to. That means the survey isn’t representative of the U.S. population or even all radio listeners. But it does offer directional insights from thousands of core radio listeners.


Beyond podcasting, overall audio streaming on various devices looked very solid in the survey, registering across-the-board gains since the outbreak began. Nearly one in four (24%) said they are listening more to the webcast of the station that sent them the survey on its website and 21% are tuning in more on the station’s own mobile app. In addition, 14% are accessing the station more on a smart speaker; 13% are listening more via an aggregator app such as iHeartRadio or Radio.com. And 12% said they are listening to their home station more on a wireless audio system such as those from Bose and Sonos. Both percentages are higher than in early April.


“Radio is doing a really good job at getting the message out that there are other ways to listen to the radio station,” Jacobs said during the webinar. “These streaming distribution outlets are becoming more and more important.”


Nearly three months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the research quantifies the growing size of radio’s core audience that is working from home — or not working at all. The survey shows 15% are currently unemployed. That’s nearly quadruple the number that was out of work just six weeks earlier when a similar study was conducted. And among commercial radio listeners who have a job, there’s an almost even split between those laboring outside the home (46%) and those working from home (41%), with 13% doing both. A higher percentage of employed public radio listeners (67%) are working from home.

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