The pandemic forced millions to stay-at-home as businesses were temporarily closed, curtailing commuting hours. As working-remotely became a way of life, some office workers moved away from central cities to sparsely populated outer suburbs and second homes. These workers relied on Zoom calls, emails, chat rooms with more “personal time” to consume media.
It has been well documented that at-home media consumption changed during the pandemic. For example, video game playing, streaming video, listening to podcasts and streaming audio all grew. Conversely, the ratings for most television programs including premiere sporting events and awards shows plunged (although TV networks are questioning Nielsen). Additionally, according to Edison Research “Share of Ear” report, the pandemic in-car radio listening dropped by 37% when first quarter 2020 is compared to second quarter. In-car radio listening rebounded when restrictions were lifted in the third quarter of 2020.
Prior to the pandemic, the Census Bureau’s annual “Journey to Work” survey for 2019 reported the average one-way commute in the United States grew to a record high 27.6 minutes, a 10% increase from 2006. In addition, a record high 9.8% percent of commuters said their daily one-way commute now exceeds one hour. Commuter time is longest (over 30 minutes) in metro areas with a population of over three million. Motor vehicles (i.e., cars, trucks, vans), whether driving alone or carpooling remain, by far and away, the most popular mode of getting to work, accounting for 85% of all commuters.
Even with the increase in web enhanced connected cars, the most popular source of audio infotainment in cars remains AM/FM radio. According to Edison Research in first quarter 2021, terrestrial radio accounted for 87% of all ad-supported in-car listening, followed by SiriusXM (6%), podcasts (5%), ad-supported Pandora (2%) and ad-supported Spotify (1%).
In fact, roughly 45% of all radio listening occurs in cars, 32% at home and another 23% of listening at work. Roughly 40% of all radio listening occurs during either AM drive time (M-F 6 a.m.-10 a.m.) or PM drive time (M-F 3 p.m.-7 p.m.) dayparts. The most listened to time period is Mid-day (M-F 10 a.m.-3 p.m.) which accounts for about 27% of all radio listening.