Third Straight Monthly Gain Puts Radio’s Reach At Highest Level Since COVID Outbreak.


Radio’s weekly reach rose for a third consecutive month in Nielsen’s April PPM survey, hitting its highest level since March 2020 when COVID-19's impact began to upend normal media consumption patterns. New data released today (May 20) shows radio has added more than 5 million new weekly listeners aged 12+ since the beginning of 2021 in the 45 non-embedded PPM markets.


“As America continues to reopen, consumers are returning to radio in numbers not seen in over half a year,” the measurement giant says in a new report.


Nielsen has been updating the industry on listening levels in PPM markets since the pandemic began in March 2020. The new numbers reflect the new April survey data being released this week.


With consumers spending more time working outside the home and in their vehicles, radio’s 12+ cume in PPM markets climbed to 121.1 million in April, up from 119.6 million in March, 115.9 million in February and 115.8 million in January. The numbers have ebbed and flowed over the past 15 ratings surveys, from the pre-COVID total of 124.2 million in March 2020, in parallel with various phases of the pandemic, such as lockdowns, reopenings, infection surges, and now vaccines.


Average Quarter-Hour (AQH) audience, the other key audience metric, posted a second straight monthly audience gain in April. In PPM-measured markets, radio’s total AQH persons increased to 7.6 million in April, up from 7.5 million in March, and 7.0 million in both February and January.


April 2021’s AQH is at its highest level since the fourth quarter of 2020, prior to this past winter’s virus surges and associated restrictions. What’s more, AQH audience levels have jumped 10% in the past two months as vaccinations and a gradual return to pre-pandemic routines have proliferated.


The year-over-year comparison between April 2020 and April 2021 stands at a 114 index for weekly reach and a 131 index for AQH. This means that from a weekly reach perspective, the radio audience in April 2021 is 14% larger than the same month from one year ago, while for AQH the audience is now 31% larger.


Nielsen says the April listening gains were spread across the day, with all major dayparts at or near their AQH peaks since COVID-19 turned the world upside down. Both morning drive (Mon-Fri, 6-10am) and weekends (Sat-Sun, 6a-12 midnight) hit their highest audience levels since fall 2020.

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