U.S. consumers have been resuming their pre-pandemic activities, including spending and listening, according to Nielsen Audio.
“[A] rising tide of optimism headlines the American experience as we continue to emerge from the disruption caused by the virus,” wrote Managing Director Brad Kelly. “Nielsen’s ongoing series of audio consumer sentiment surveys is reporting the highest levels of consumer confidence that we’ve heard since the COVID crisis began.”
The company has released its latest “Audio Today” report, focusing on consumer sentiment. The trend lines are sunny, though the data were gathered up through May and June, so they may not reflect the most recent concerns about coronavirus variants.
“Audio use is on the rise,” Kelly wrote. “It’s being driven (pun intended) by increasing levels of mobility and traffic on our roadways. Among the employed, two thirds are now working outside the home, up more than 70% since the height of lock-down in the spring of 2020. As a result, the AM/FM Radio audience just recorded its highest levels in over a year across Nielsen’s PPM markets. Radio remains America’s top weekly reach medium, and an essential part of the daily media diet for millions.”
Kelly said while listening migrated into the home during the past year via smart speaker or mobile device, Nielsen now sees an audience shift back to pre-pandemic habits, with in-car and out-of-home consumption increasing.
Asked by Radio World if the recent surge in COVID variants should put an asterisk next to these numbers, a spokesperson said, “At this point, we’re not seeing any unexpected radio listening trends due to new variants. Annually, May is a high point for radio listening and when summer months come around, the radio audience softens slightly. This is because, pandemic or not, people come out of their routines in the summer with less working, more holidays and time away, etc. This year, the most recent July survey showed a modest 5% decline from May, which is in line with usual seasonal trends.”
Nielsen Audio also reported that podcasting attracted new listeners, particularly from home, and that podcast consumption is on the rise. “The past 18 months have proven the resiliency of podcasts, despite the major life changes brought about by COVID-19,” the company stated.
Its updated charts for weekly reach and average quarter hour listening are shown below.