Pierre Bouvard 375

There is a huge new captive listening audience available to radio as companies institute telework policies for employees, while universities, colleges and local public education systems institute online learning in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Of those who are regular remote workers, Nielsen Scarborough USA+ reports that 90.8% of Americans who work from home are reached by AM/FM broadcast radio. Office at-work listening habits are likely to carry over as employees look for some sense of normalcy by continuing to listen to their favorite stations throughout the work day.

“AM/FM radio is the soundtrack of the American worker regardless of where they sit,” Pierre Bouvard, Chief Insights Officer at Cumulus Media and Westwood One writes in a new post on the “Everyone’s Listening” blog. “Even if more are currently working from home, AM/FM radio is still America’s number one mass reach media.”

Radio is already strong both at-work at in home, as Edison Research proved in its recent “Share of Ear” study. “AM/FM’s at-home share of ad-supported audio is actually a bit stronger at home versus at work,” Bouvard points out. “In both locations, AM/FM radio is the dominant audio platform.”

The share of listening to AM/FM radio at work is 68%, while at home listening rises to 75%. The “Share of Ear” study looked at ad-supported audience of persons 18+ Q1-Q4 2019.

By a large margin, radio surpasses usage of ad-supported SiriusXM, Pandora and Spotify both at work and in the home. Pandora has a share of ear of 13% at work and 10% at home, Spotify is at 6%/5% and ad-supported SiriusXM has 3% share of ear at work and only 1% at home.

What’s more, the ads played on platforms outside of radio rarely get heard, as the services are used more as background than local AM/FM radio is.

Bouvard cites a just-released MARU/Matchbox study that “reveals that only half of at-home Pandora and Spotify listeners can actually hear the ads.” Meanwhile, AM/FM radio ads are heard 83% of the time during at home listening. “Music streaming services are great for ‘chilling out’ and are played softly in the other room,” Bouvard writes. “As such, few can hear the ads.”

At home listening is also bolstered by the use of smart speakers with Edison Research showing that AM/FM radio is No. 1 in smart speaker share of time spent, garnering 24% of the share (persons 13+ Q3 2019) – 60% larger than Amazon Music’s 15% share.

Network radio listening should not see an effect as Nielsen’s RADAR service is based on a one-year rolling average of four quarters “that smooth out the highs and the lows,” Bouvard notes in the blog post meant to answer questions from ad agencies as we enter these unchartered waters.

Bouvard said Triton Digital reports streaming audience share increased last week for public radio and news/talk radio stations, which is not surprising.

A recent NuVoodoo study also shows that radio consumption is on the rise as Americans turn to the medium for information and updates on the health crisis. According to its study, 27% of respondents say they are using radio more since the outbreak and 37% use radio for information in their local markets.