How audio listening is changing

How have our listening habits changed with our new lifestyles?

The way in which we consume audio media has changed. The below diagram from DAX shows how before coronavirus we would have listened to the radio while we ate breakfast, then perhaps streamed a podcast or music on our commute, before settling into commercial radio at our place of work. On our commute home we may have streamed music or a podcast again, before streaming once more while at the gym, and then finishing perhaps with another podcast or the radio.

However, with our commutes cut down to the living room, and the gyms closed – how has this affected our listening habits?

Commercial Radio

38% of commercial radio listeners are tuning in for an extra hour and 45 minutes each day since lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as they adjust to spending more time at home. These listeners are now tuning in for an average of 26 hours every week, compared the average time spent listening of around 14 hours a week prior to the health crisis.


The research from Radiocentre shows that the driving audience behind the surge in radio listening are those who would previously have listened during their commute and work day. 45% of this group are listening to more radio now – on average for an additional two hours each day. 

Reasons cited for the extra listening include:

  • keeping in touch with the outside world (90%)
  • keeping them informed (89%)
  • keeping them company (84%)
  • radio delivers trusted news (68%)
  • they trust the radio more than other news sources (51%)

Why add radio into your marketing plans?

Adding radio into your media mix can improve overall effectiveness across a variety of metrics including:

  • Ad awareness +48%
  • Brand browsing online +52%
  • Brand relevance +23%7

Radio also boosts short and longer term effects of your advertising.

Music streaming

Music streaming listening patterns are changing too. There has been an increase in desktop listening as people work from home, with streaming peaking at midday.

A survey by Global Web Index shows that the consumption of music streaming services such as Spotify have increased across every age group.

% of those streaming more music now than before the outbreak

  • 28% of those aged 8-23 years old
  • 35% of those aged 25-39 years old
  • 27% of those aged 40-54 years old
  • 12% of those aged 55-75 years old

19% of those aged 25-39 years old are also considering purchasing a Spotify Premium subscription. The New York Time’s also reports that consumer spending on the likes of Apple Music and Spotify Premium rose by just over 20% YoY in the week when compared to the same seven days in 2019.

Unsurprisingly, 68% of those surveyed are seeking out pandemic updates online over any other activity. Those aged 8-23 (Gen Z) however, have other plans, as they are the only generation more likely to be listening to music than searching for news.

However, while music streaming for the younger generation is up, it has declined for other audiences as a large share of music streaming occurs during commutes, and many people are no longer heading into work. There is also a decline in music streaming from the hospitality industry. Many of the restaurants, coffee shops, and stores that would normally stream music all day are shut down.

Interestingly, some music genres have seen more of a decline than others. Perhaps showing that as our lifestyles change, our musical tastes are changing too.


Perhaps for the same reasons as the decline in music streaming in certain audiences, podcast listening has also decreased over the last few weeks.

Research by Podtrac showed that all genres experienced a decrease in listeners, although some more than others.

  • News -10%
  • True crime -30%
  • Sports -13%
  • Comedy -15%
  • Social and culture -17%

So, what does this mean for audio advertising?

Commercial radio is the clear winner amongst the three platforms we’ve looked at. People are turning to radio for company, comfort and trusted news updates, and listener hours have boomed as a result.

Music streaming does beat radio for the younger audiences though, as they look for curated playlists rather than news stories.

Podcasts about current news stories haven’t experienced as much of a decline as other categories such as true crime (down 30%), and so are still a great way of reaching older audiences that lean towards music streaming.

How can we help?

If you need help or advice on your long or short-term marketing goals, get in touch with our friendly team today via [email protected].

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