Radio listening robust during lockdown

New reports from RAJAR and Ofcom have shown that radio listening remained robust during lockdown, with listeners seeking entertainment, information and companionship during a period of huge disruption.

With the RAJAR survey effectively frozen at the end of Q1 2020 due to the suspension of face-to-face fieldwork, RAJAR issued a market overview of Listening in Lockdown (released on 4 August 2020) based on their own tracking survey of over 1000 re-contacts from the Q1 2020 survey, and their stakeholder’s insights.

The report showed a complex and altered picture of listening habits in lockdown as listeners’ usual routines and lives were disrupted.

While overall reach declined by 2%, average hours per listener were seen to increase by 8% compared to Q1 2020, and of the Q1 2020 participants re-contacted, 33% claimed to be listening to more radio, compared to 23% listening less.

Location of listening shifted dramatically with the Government’s stay at home message, with 88% of listening taking place in home, compared to 60% in Q1 2020; 7% in the car compared to 24% in Q1 2020; and 5% in the work place compared to 16% in Q1 2020.

With listeners having more time to explore new pursuits and seeking entertainment, 5 million listened to a new station during lockdown and the average station repertoire increased from 8.8 stations to 10.4.

Ofcom’s third annual Media Nations Report, released on 5 August 2020, reviewed key trends in the radio, audio, TV and online video sectors, and included analysis on the impact of lockdown.

The report drew upon Q1 2020 RAJAR data, Ofcom’s own study on radio listening in lockdown, and Touchpoint’s share of audio data from 24 March – 16 April.

According to Touchpoints, radio’s share of audio listening among all listeners held steady at 70% during lockdown compared to 71% pre-lockdown. Among 15-24s, radio’s share of audio fell from 27% to 18%., while music streaming’s share of audio for young listeners fell from 53% to 51%, to the benefit of YouTube, audiobooks and podcasts all of which saw their share of audio grow among young listeners.

Ofcom cites that 48% of radio listeners changed their listening habits during lockdown with 26% listening more and 22% listening less. They highlighted the growing and critical role of YouTube with 75% of online adults using it and increasingly using it for listening to music.