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Impact of COVID-19 on radio listening

Jo Loup May 7, 2021 1:15:00 PM
radio listening during covid-19

Since mid-March 2020, the COVID-19 outbreak has radically changed where and how people work in Canada, as well as where and how they get news, entertainment and music.

Most radio listening used to occur during the rush-hour drive. As commuters went to and from work, they tuned into their favourite station and hosts for the latest news, entertainment updates and music to make their drive more enjoyable. Now that most Canadians have switched to working from home, the patterns of listening have changed.

At the beginning of the lockdown, tuning levels fell as many Canadians switched to working from home and weren’t listening to the radio in the car during the traditional daily commute. However, since the beginning of May, radio tuning started to climb.  Although it's not yet reached the pre-lockdown levels, the analysis is encouraging.

Our radio dashboard, built using Conex , shows the shifts in radio tuning across the country during this period. It includes ratings by market, weekly reach, hours tuned, out-of-home vs in-home tuning and streaming.

Here are some highlights:

  • Total radio listening for Ind2+ increased slightly in the first quarter of 2021 in Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal Anglo when compared to the previous quarter.

  • Ind2+ total weekly reach for all stations in Edmonton during the week of March 1st was the highest it had been for almost a year.

  • 18-34 listening during drivetime in Calgary has increased 33% in the first quarter of this year compared to last quarter and 18-49 listening has increased 25%.

  • In home listening for A25-54 increased in the first quarter of the year compared to the previous quarter in all markets, with the exception of the Montreal Anglo and Franco.

  • Radio streaming for A25-54 has increased slightly in Toronto & Calgary yet in Vancouver has increased 45% in the first quarter of this year when compared to last year. It now represents 19% of Vancouver total listening compared to 12% last year.


Radio listening dashboard


Clients with radio PPM subscriptions can access the full dashboard either through Lens or the home page of InstarRadio PPM.



Click here to watch our recent webinar on the impact of COVID-19 on radio listening and advertising.