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What impact is the coronavirus pandemic having on radio listening? Nielsen has issued the results of a perceptual study that provide some answers. Conducted March 20-22, the online survey shows consumers hold radio in high regard with 60% of Adults 18+ saying they trust radio to give timely information about the coronavirus. Importantly, 83% of American adults also report spending the same or more time with radio as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“In a time of heightened uncertainty and disrupted routines, consumers are turning to radio as a trusted source of information and community connection, mirroring patterns observed during past regional and national disasters and weather events,” said Brad Kelly, Managing Director, Nielsen Audio. 

Focusing on American attitudes surrounding the COVID-19 crisis and radio listening, the study reinforces the importance of efforts radio has made to keep audiences informed during the outbreak. It found 92% of American adults are concerned (moderately or extremely) about the pandemic. In addition, more than half said radio is a good source of information about the coronavirus and the associated restrictions; trust that what they hear on radio is accurate; and trust the information they get from their favorite radio hosts.

In addition, more than 42% of consumers reported that radio has helped them deal with the outbreak. A slightly higher percentage (46%) indicated that radio helps them know what stores are open and where to shop locally.

In many parts of the country, the health crisis has brought much of the economy to a standstill, apart from essential services such as grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations. As marketers and advertisers take stock of the outbreak’s impact on the economy, insights into consumer sentiment is more critical than ever. Nielsen’s perceptual study shows daily radio users are more likely to shop and buy essential items in the next week than Americans in general.

“Radio is a local lifeblood for millions of consumers and specializes in keeping audiences up-to-date and plugged into what matters most to them in their community,” said Kelly. “In this environment, it’s no surprise that people say they use radio as a major source of information and connection. Whether it’s for local news, a place to listen to what is happening, to connect with community members or simply as a way to find out which essential retailers are open for business, radio is continuing to fill those needs for consumers everywhere.”

The survey was conducted online among a weighted sample of 1,000 adults 18+ in the U.S. from March 20-22, 2020.