CRA and ARN research points to bigger, and more engaged, radio audiences in response to COVID-19

23% of Australian adults are listening to more radio during COVID-19, according to figures compiled by GfK and released today by industry body Commercial Radio Australia (CRA).

The research has been unveiled ahead of this week’s GfK radio ratings survey two, which will be the last to report on the performance of radio shows and stations for a while. Earlier in the month, CRA announced it would be pausing the survey results because the necessary fieldwork, including in-person interviews and physical diaries, wasn’t safe during COVID-19 lockdowns across the country.

Radio surveys were put on hold earlier this month in response to COVID-19

Today’s research indicates that of younger people aged 18-34, 29% have increased their radio listening (compared to 27% of 35-44s, 20% of 45-54s, 15% of 55-64s and 16% of those aged 65+).

Almost three in four Australians over 18 are listening to radio the same amount, or more, according to the research, with a third listening at home, and 52% listening via a smart speaker (compared to 32% listening on AM/FM and 27% of DAB+ listeners).

CRA said the results prove radio is a trusted medium, with 72% trusting radio to provide up-to-date COVID-19 information, 68% seeing radio as a good source of COVID-19 information, and 63% saying they trust the information given by radio presenters.

“We have seen again and again that radio is an essential service with a vital role to play during emergency situations such as the one we are currently experiencing with COVID-19 and the recent bushfire crisis,” said CRA CEO Joan Warner, who last week called upon the government for a crisis relief package to mitigate the impacts of plummeting ad revenue, and to “divert a proportion of its marketing spend from global digital platforms to local Australian radio”.

Warner: Consumers trust radio

“Beyond being a source of accurate and up-to-date information, radio is a source of comfort and connectivity for audiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many people in isolation or limiting social contact. In fact, 62% of listeners say that radio makes them feel less alone and 64% say that radio keeps them connected with their local community.”

Australian Radio Network (ARN) – which has implemented four day weeks, cut management and board salaries by 20%, and introduced a minimum of 10% pay cuts for on-air talent in response to the global health crisis – also released figures today that support CRA’s findings.

ARN’s iHeartRadio, for example, has experienced a 31% increase in registrations, 26% increase in new users and 38% increase in time spent listening to podcasts. Audiences are also spending 5% more time listening to ARN stations across the Kiis, Pure Gold, and The Edge Networks.

Source: ARN. [Click to enlarge]

ARN national strategy director, Lauren Joyce, said this was a “unique opportunity” for advertisers to access a highly engaged audience, while commercial product and audio partnerships director, Corey Layton, added that the medium is both entertaining and informing listeners.

Source: ARN. [Click to enlarge]

“What this data indicates is that even with heightened competition from screens in the home, people are still actively choosing to listen to on-demand audio, which proves the transporting and engaging effects of the medium,” Layton said.

The increased consumption of COVID-19 content appears to correlate with a decrease in true crime listening figures, ARN said, with audiences instead turning to lighter options such as entertainment and lifestyle podcasts and catch-up radio.

Source: ARN. [Click to enlarge]

“We know that while our audience’s day-to-day behaviours might be shifting, they are consuming radio to remain connected, they’re on digital to stay engaged, and are listening to podcasts to escape. Their day might have changed but their appetite for audio hasn’t,” chief commercial officer Pete Whitehead said.

“As they listen for longer, it provides even greater opportunities for brands to engage. Due to the immediacy of radio, our advertisers can adapt their campaigns in real-time, aligning messaging for our engaged listeners.

“This is the true power of audio – it’s adaptable and immediate in response to changing customer demands, offering clients the most optimal opportunities for integration.”


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