There was no impact on listening levels in Nielsen diary markets during the COVID-19 pandemic. Total listening during the June-July-August survey in the continuously measured diary markets is virtually identical to the pre-COVID January-February-March period, Westwood One reports in a new analysis based on Nielsen data. In Nielsen’s high-level findings, the just-released total week cume is 101% of the prior period and AQH is 100% of the prior survey.
Additionally, one-third of the continuously measured diary markets now have greater listening levels than Q1 2020. Comparing the June-July-August diary surveys to the January-February-March period finds that thirteen markets currently have listening levels that exceed pre-COVID levels. Listening in Syracuse is now 11% greater than in the winter. Wilkes-Barre, Des Moines, Greenville, Chattanooga, El Paso, Albany, Tucson, Madison, Spokane, Charleston, Dayton and Bakersfield all have greater listening today than in the pre-COVID period, according to the Westwood One blog post.
During the September 2020 PPM ratings period (Aug. 13-Sept. 9), drive time audience recovery continued in PPM markets. For the fifth month in a row, morning drive and afternoon drive listening have shown growth. Middays are at 92% and evenings are 89% of prior levels. Weekends audiences fully recovered in June.
Benchmarking against the March PPM survey, overall total week September average quarter-hour listening is at 90% of March audiences. Total PPM AQH listening is now 10% higher than the Spring 2020 (April-May-June) period.
Compared to March, AM/FM radio has retained 97% of its weekly reach in PPM markets. Format shares are exceptionally stable. The sports format held onto its 3.8 share in September, which grew sharply from July to August.
A major part of broadcast radio listening occurs in the car and in August three times as many Americans commuted to work versus those who worked from home. A national study of those who worked in February conducted by the Dallas Federal Reserve reveals a steady increase in the proportion of workers who are commuting to jobs away from their homes – 64% of the February workforce commuted to work in August, three times as many as those who worked from home (20%).
Additionally, Geopath reports U.S. weekly average miles traveled recovered in June. Geopath says over the last six months, smaller and medium markets saw little, if any, decreases in vehicle miles travelled due to the pandemic.
During September, the smaller the market, the greater the mileage increase over the same week in the prior year, the company says. Compared to the prior year, mileage traveled in the past week in the top 25 markets was 11% to 17% greater than in the prior year.
In markets 26-100, average miles traveled was 29% to 39% greater than 2019. Markets outside the top 100 experienced significant growth in miles traveled, +48% to +54%.