The sooner COVID-19 fades away the better, but the impact of the pandemic may not be entirely bad for radio. While it is true commuting habits have been altered for many who are now working from home, new data shows rather than result in less radio listening for many Americans it has in fact led to even more FM consumption.
One in five (19%) listeners surveyed by NuVoodoo Media said compared to early 2020 before the pandemic they are listening to more FM radio today. And 37% said their listening levels are holding steady. Just 9% reported less FM consumption. It was a similar trend for listening to an FM station online, with 17% listening more and 28% reporting similar listening levels.
NuVoodoo said digital service providers (DSPs) have seen the biggest uptick in listening during the pandemic with a third of those surveyed saying they are spending more time with those music services like Spotify and Amazon Music. Podcasting has grown too, with 21% dedicating more of their time to on-demand audio.
Leigh Jacobs, EVP of Research Analysis at NuVoodoo, said over-the-air still has its best performance with in-car listening. Asked which format they are most likely to use while driving, 37% said broadcast radio with another 7% mentioning a radio station’s webcast. Digital music services ranked second in the car, mentioned by about a quarter of those surveyed with satellite radio cited by fewer than one in ten.
“Every other place we asked about – at work, working outside the home, working at home, various rooms around the home – streaming of FM stations gets as much attention as using a regular radio,” said Jacobs during a company webinar this week.
Among those that leave the house for work, NuVoodoo says half are there by 8am and while people working are starting their job a little later than pre-pandemic. “The sweet spot if you’re looking to slot a workday commercial-free kickoff is still in the 8am realm,” advised Jacobs. He said ratings participants are also still more likely to listen to radio while at work.
The data also FM streaming consumption is the same regardless of where someone works. What changes said Jacobs is the over-the-air listening levels. He said the data shows they are “sharply lower” among people who no longer commute. “Thus, the importance of streaming radio, smart speakers, apps and making sure listeners understand how to get that FM,” he said.
The survey also shed light on the continued growth of smart speaker ownership. NuVoodoo says it saw an 11% increase in ownership compared to early-2020 regardless of whether it is a result of the pandemic or just growing popularity of the devices. Jacobs said ownership of smart speakers is even more likely among people who agree to carry a PPM or fill out a ratings diary.
“There’s a strong likelihood that they have a smart speaker in their lives,” he said. “And the dominant place to put it is in the bedroom.”
A quarter of smart speaker owners told NuVoodoo that they listen to at least 30 minutes a week to FM stations using the device. That figure goes up even higher among people most like to carry a PPM or fill out diaries said Jacobs. But the survey also showed that 6% of people were not aware they could access an FM station on a smart speaker.
NuVoodoo’s findings are based on an online survey of 3,329 persons aged 14 to 54 conducted January 3-5. Get details of the entire survey – including information about social media usage – in a replay of the company’s presentation HERE.