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Radio Listening Is Rebounding

July 10, 2020

The final PPM June books were just released. In coordination with XTrends, Research Director, Inc. has analyzed market listening in 47 of the 48 PPM markets and the results are encouraging for the radio industry.

While radio listening declined as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic shutdown, it has rebounded and is approaching pre-COVID-19 levels.

Listening in every one of the studied markets was higher in the June survey when compared to the April survey (3/26-4/22). The average market has seen P6+ listening increase 20% with individual market growth ranging from +4% to +38%. Growth was even more impressive with the target demo of Adults 25-54, where the average market has seen listening climb +22% with a range of +5% to +40%.

All but one market saw P6+ PUMM (market level AQH) in June exceed the May survey. The average market grew 8% with a range from -1% to +17%. Growth is also seen with the target demo of Adults 25-54, where the average market saw listening climb +9%.

Radio listening in all but one market has grown for two consecutive surveys. In other words, radio listening is climbing from both April to May and also May to June.

When breaking the four-week surveys into their individual weeks, most markets showed steady growth from the previous week. While some weeks would slip from the previous week, the overall pattern is impressive. Often, listening in the last two weeks of the June survey (6/4-6/17) was the highest it’s been since week 3 of the March survey (3/12-3/18).

Historically radio listening has been driven by away-from-home listening. Generally we saw at-home listening maintain, and in some markets increase. However, when COVID-19 hit, away-from-home listening was impacted dramatically. As markets have been opening up, away-from-home listening has begun its recovery.

Over the years, some have questioned how well PPM technology captures radio listening. While no survey technique is perfect, it is reassuring how well PPM has reflected the change in lifestyle and subsequent shifts in radio listening.

While our industry is not back to pre-COVID-19 listening levels, the rebound is a positive sign. As each market’s economy rebounds, radio listening will return. As advertisers plan their ad campaigns for the second half of 2020 and beyond, they need to recognize that these surveys conducted during the economic shutdown are not indicative of radio listening in the future. The results of the June PPM survey, when compared to both the April and May surveys, reflect this fact.

Have questions? Contact us here.

-Charlie Sislen, Partner