Nielsen Portable People Meter Data Reveals Am/Fm Radio Listening Surges


This week’s Westwood One Blog discusses the results of Nielsen’s October Portable People Meter AM/FM radio listening trends, which Nielsen reviewed today on a client webinar. 

The October PPM survey covered September 10 through October 7, the post-Labor Day period when most U.S. schools are in session. 

  • Since April, 25-54 PPM average quarter-hour audiences are up +35%: From September to October, listening jumped +6%, from an 88 to a 93 index. Over the seven-month period, persons 25-54 listening has grown +35% from April to October (69 to 93 index). 
  • Drive times exhibit strong recovery in PPM markets and mornings grow +11%: The majority of October’s listening recovery occurred in mornings (Monday-Friday 6AM-10AM) which soared +11% versus September. Afternoon drive (Monday-Friday 3PM-7PM) is up +6% over the prior month. 
  • Middays, nights, and weekends grow and approach pre-COVID audience levels: In the most recent October PPM survey, midday audiences were up to a 96 index, +4% growth over the prior month. Nights have been remarkably stable since July. October weekend audiences now surpass March levels at a 101 index. 
  • Nearly all PPM markets have recovered to 90+% of March audiences: 42 of 48 PPM markets have now retained 90%+ of March AQH listening levels. 15 markets meet or exceed March listening levels. 
  • Sports shares surge while most formats remain stable: With the return of sports, AQH shares to Sports radio jumped to a 3.8 share in September and a 4.5 in October. Powered by a strong news cycle, News Talk station shares grew from a 13.2 share in September to a 13.8 share in October. 
  • Diary market scorecard: No impact in listening levels versus pre-COVID: Total listening during the July-August-September survey in the continuously measured diary markets is virtually identical to the pre-COVID January-February-March period at 101%. Average quarter-hour audiences are 100% of the January-February-March survey.  
  • For network radio advertisers, current listening levels are now very similar the recently issued Nationwide Fall 2019/Spring 2020 report.

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