Nearly one in five Hispanic Americans say they have spent more time listening to podcasts during the pandemic. That is according to a new report on the population segment from Nielsen. It reports 18% of Latinos spent more time with podcasts. A big reason may be where they are. Nielsen's survey found that nearly a third of Hispanics said they were spending more time at home, where most podcast listening takes place on a smartphone. With business closures and work-from-home the new way of life, nearly a quarter of Hispanics said they are spending less time in the car.
"As COVID-19 news began to dominate our everyday lives, the Hispanic community quickly adopted the use of their connectivity tool of choice—the smartphone—to get news and information on the virus, health care advice and economic impact," said Nielsen. Latinos' smartphone habits have made the demographic ready-made for podcasters. The report said 98% of Hispanics in the U.S. own a smartphone. That is five points higher than the population overall. Latinos spend an average of more than 30 hours per week on smartphones, more than any other device, including TV. "When compared to the total population, Hispanics spent almost two more hours per week watching videos, streaming audio and social networking on their smartphones during COVID-19, as a way to bridge the social distancing gap," said Nielsen.
There are 62.3 million Hispanics, making up 19% of the current U.S. population. A growing number are podcast listeners. The report says 16% of Hispanics that consume podcasts now listen at least once a day, over-indexing the average podcast listener by nine percent. "As Latinos were more likely to be essential workers, COVID-19 gave Latinos more time to explore podcast genres," said Nielsen. "As podcasts gained in popularity early in the year, we see that they serve as a complement to busy Hispanics who want a different avenue for entertainment."
The top two podcast genres during the pandemic have remained the same with Hispanics as with the general population, although their order is reversed. With a younger audience, comedy was the top podcast genre, with 57% of Latinos listening to shows in that category. News ranked second at 44%, followed by Society& Culture at 40%. Nielsen said that Hispanics over-index the most on the preference for Music podcasts by 61% and for Health & Fitness podcasts by 52%. That, too, may be related to age. The median age of the Hispanic population is 29 years old compared to 38 for the overall U.S. population and 44 for Whites.
The connection between broadcast radio and Latinos has traditionally been strong, and that remains true today. The pandemic has presented broadcasters targeting Hispanics an opportunity to grow their share of podcast listening. Nielsen said that more than a third (36%) of Latinos surveyed said that during the pandemic, they have looked for new ways to listen to their favorite radio personalities, programs, and stations.
Beyond podcasting, the data offered some encouraging news for AM/FM radio. It showed that in-home radio listening among Hispanics grew from 29% in March to 39% in April. Nielsen also said the decline in out-of-home listening was also smaller among Hispanics as the segment disproportionately works in essential worker jobs.
Nielsen said 43% of Hispanics said that their favorite radio host made them feel less concerned and panicked, and 42% said their radio host made them feel less alone. Another 48% reported that listening to their favorite radio host helped them feel more informed and less stressed.
"Radio has always played a unique role within the Latino community beyond entertainment. It serves as a trusted conduit of culturally relevant information on matters at home and abroad, which underscores why Latinos consistently turned to trusted radio personalities for information updates on COVID," the report said.
The findings are based on a custom Nielsen online survey conducted March 20-22 based on a weighted sample of 1,000 adults age 18 and older.
Download a copy of Cultural Connectivity Transformed: How Latinos Are Connecting While Social Distancing HERE.