Fresh research reinforces radio’s resilience in reaching American consumers with spending power. An analysis of January 2021 Nielsen PPM data projected to the U.S. population shows 94% of 25-54 Adults and 96% of35-64 Adults, both with household incomes of $75,000 or greater, have returned to listening to local AM/FM radio every week, when compared to January 2020 pre-pandemic listening levels.
“This is exciting news, say Mike Bustell, VP of Market Research at Hubbard Radio which conducted the analysis. “Our advertisers were requesting this analysis of a January 2021 vs. January 2020 listening level comparison [since] January 2020 was considered to be what ‘normal’ looked like. Most are pleasantly surprised at local radio’s resilience.”
That’s especially true among listeners with household incomes of $75,000 or greater. “These are the consumers who can afford to buy their new vehicles, new furniture, mattresses, HVAC systems, and more,” Bustell points out.
Average quarter hour listening is recovering quickly, too. AQH levels for these $75K+HHI listeners and are back to 83% for 25-54 Adults and 87% for 35-64 Adults, respectively.
In Cincinnati, for example, the Hubbard analysis shows local AM/FM radio’s cume in the Mon-Fri, 6am-7pm daypart rose 10% year-over-year in January 2021 among Adults 25-54 with $75K+HHI while AQH returned to 100% of its January 2020 levels. At Hubbard’s Chicago cluster, AQH levels are back to 98% of their January 2020 levels, Mon-Fri 6a-7p, among 25-54 Adults with annual household income of $75,000 or greater. “But even more exciting is that their weekly time-spent-listening is up 40%.”
Bustell attributes the TSL boost to significantly more at-home listening. More than one-fourth (27%) of the Chicago market’s A25-54 AQH listening took place at-home in the January 2021 survey, compared to 21% in January 2020. For Hubbard Chicago, at-home listening, as a percentage of its total listening, has doubled in the span of one year. As of January 2021, it accounted for 29% of the Hubbard Chicago cluster’s AQH among 25-54 Adults, Mon-Fri, 6am-7pm, compared to just 14% in January of 2020.
“Smart speaker at-home listening has exploded,” Bustell says. “Like all savvy operators, we’ve adapted to the ‘new normal’ of more people working from home and keeping their attention through great local programming and personalities that you just can’t get from online music services,” he explains.
Advertisers want to reach consumers with spending power and the Hubbard analysis shows local AM/FM radio reaches more of this desirable group than any other platform. During the Mon-Fri, 6a-7p daypart in Nielsen’s January 2021 survey, broadcast radio reached 74% of all $75K+HHI Adults 25-54. And based on the most-recent January-August 2020 Nielsen Scarborough data – research conducted in the heart of the pandemic – only Netflix beat local AM/FM Radio at 76.3% reach. But advertisers, of course, can’t buy ads on Netflix. The weekly reach of local TV stations is 68.7% while non-premium cable’s weekly reach is 72%. That means that local AM/FM radio’s 74% reach of $75K+ A25-54s (M-F 6a-7p) in January 2021 “is the biggest net available for advertisers who want to reach above-average consumers whether they are local or national,” says Bustell.
Meanwhile, despite the pandemic, the latest stats from the U.S .Department of Housing and Urban Development show the national median household income rose to $78,500 in 2020. And the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports13 million jobs have been recovered since the initial March-April 2020 pandemic lockdowns. And that 142.1 million, or 92.9% of the 153 million Americans employed as of February 2020, are currently working.