While the U.S. is still a week away from the publication of the March Nielsen Portable People Meter data, Canada’s just-released AM/FM radio audience data provides insight on how “sheltering at home” impacts listening.
Canada moved faster to urge citizens to stay home
Early in March, Canada’s federal and provincial governments encouraged Canadians to stay home. During mid-March, while many Canadian families typically began March Break, Canadian families with children in elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schools were told not return to school after the break.
On March 17, the prime minister of Canada told those who could stay home that they should stay home. By the third week in March, Canadians, with the exception of government-identified essential services, were forced to stay home. This government mandate came earlier than the U.S., where a federal stay home national recommendation came on March 29.
Numeris, Canada’s TV and AM/FM radio audience measurement firm, publishes weekly AM/FM radio listening data. Canada’s AM/FM radio marketing organization, Radio Connects, conducted an analysis of five major markets worth of PPM listening from December 30, 2019 to March 29, 2020.
Some have theorized that due to the Coronavirus, AM/FM radio listening levels are now a fraction of normal listening. The Canadian PPM data says otherwise. Adult 25-54 listening has experienced less than a -4% dip while time spent listening has increased +1.2%. Here are six key findings from the Radio Connects analysis:
As of the last week of March, Canadian AM/FM radio has retained 86% of typical weekly reach levels
Just like the U.S., Canada’s AM/FM radio has massive weekly reach. Despite a March 9 “shelter at home” mandate, AM/FM radio reach levels for the most recent week of March 23-29 were at 86% of January 2020 levels.
Caroline Gianias, Radio Connects President, reports, “Canada’s radio reach is still extensive with radio retaining 95% of its reach in March 2020 compared with March 2019. Canadians want to connect. Radio is how they can connect with their community during this time. A recent MARU study revealed Canadians are feeling anxious, but the familiar voice of radio is reassuring and comforting to millions of people who are being forced into new patterns of behaviors.”
At-home AM/FM radio listening has soared +29%
From Monday, February 24, 2020 to Monday, March 30, 2020, average minute audience, Canada’s version of average quarter-hour audience, has increased +29%. Gianias observes, “Canadians are listening to radio while working from home.”
The at-home share of total AM/FM radio listening has increased +73%
As is the case in the U.S., typically 30% of Canadian AM/FM radio listening occurs at home. By the last week of March, Canada’s at-home share of total AM/FM radio listening grew to 52%.
48% of AM/FM radio listening is still occurring away from home
Many assume that in the age of Coronavirus, there is no AM/FM radio listening occurring away from home. As of the last week of March, 48% of Canadian AM/FM radio listening is still occurring away from home.
Among adults 25-54, 10AM-3PM AM/FM radio listening has surged +79%
“As work shifts to the home, so is workplace listening,” says Gianias.
News/Talk AM/FM radio audiences have increased +13%
Canadian News/Talk audiences have increased from February 17-March 8 to March 9-29. Gianias notes, “As Canadians face challenging times, they are again turning to the lifeline provided by News and News/Talk radio.”
Consumers say they will shop at stores that do right by their employees
Gianias, citing a recently conducted MARU national study of consumers, says, “82% of Canadians believe brands have an enormous platform to do good while still earning a profit. If those brands support employees while their stores are temporarily closed, 82% of Canadians said they are more likely to shop with that retailer.”
Gianias concludes, “During a time of significant upheaval in peoples’ lives and resulting changes in media consumption patterns, the vast majority of Canadians want to hear from brands. Radio is always on and flexible, empowering advertisers to broadcast meaningful messages quickly, efficiently, and affordably.”
“The price of light is less than the cost of darkness”
Words from Arthur Nielsen, the founder of Nielsen, are quite apt for these times. In the absence of current AM/FM radio listening data, imaginations have run wild.
Some believe AM/FM radio listening is currently only a fraction of typical levels. The facts from Canada say otherwise.
Here are six key findings from Canada’s PPM audience data:
- As of the last week of March, Canadian AM/FM radio has retained 86% of typical weekly reach levels
- At-home AM/FM radio listening has soared +29%
- The at-home share of total AM/FM radio listening has increased +73%
- 48% of AM/FM radio listening is still occurring away from home
- Among adults 25-54, 10AM-3PM AM/FM radio listening has surged +79%
- News/Talk AM/FM radio audiences have increased +13%
Pierre Bouvard is Chief Insights Officer at CUMULUS MEDIA | Westwood One.
Contact the Insights team at CorpMarketing@westwoodone.com.