Audio Listening in 2020

Audio Listening in 2020

It’s no surprise that audio listening in 2020 took a detour during lockdown as more people spent time at home. As the UK adopted less strict working environments, people were more open to where, when and how they listened to audio.

Spotify subscribers rise 31%

In the first quarter of 2020, Spotify reported a 31% rise in subscribers and remains the most popular audio streaming service for all adults with YouTube coming second and Amazon Music third.  However, although audio listening went up, Ofcom reported that paid for streaming services lost more subscribers than they actually gained over the pandemic. The long-term impact of Covid-19 on music streaming is unclear, but as gaming consoles, smart speakers and TV’s continue to evolve, audio streaming certainly remains the preferred choice, especially for those aged 15-24.

Up-take of streaming services

Podcast listening plateaued

Podcast listening in recent years has plateaued at 16% of adults listening each week. However, Spotify’s continued investment in podcasts seems to have paid off during lockdown as the number of weekly podcast listeners using the service increased from 24% to 37%. This increase brings Spotify more in line with BBC Sounds and Apple (38%).

Radio reached 88% of UK adults at the start of the pandemic and, although in-car and at-work listening naturally decreased, RAJAR (the official body in charge of measuring radio audiences in the UK) reported that many radio broadcasters experienced an up-lift during the pandemic. This is particularly true of their online listening. 

Radio listening up 39%

RAJAR adapted their measuring during the pandemic and reported that the average listening for all adults rose in April from 1 hr 14 mins to 1 hr 42 mins (39%). This is indicative of people being in fewer locations and not being on the move.

As the UK progressed further into lockdown, listeners started moving away from news centric stations opting for more music stations with the majority of people (27%) stating they tune into radio for background listening and 7% for company. Peak listening naturally changed from early morning to mid-morning due to the change in working hours. As we enter another chapter of lockdown, the balance of at-home, at-work and in-car listening will adjust.  

Audio listening breakdown by age

Sound is emotive

The ebb and flow of audio consumption will no doubt continue as lockdown measures adapt across the UK. What remains however, is that sound has a powerful and emotive connection with its audience and its storytelling capabilities can captivate the mind and heart quickly.  It’s easier than ever before to tune into audio and as technology advances, it allows advertisers to be more innovative in their creations.

Sources for Audio Listening in Lockdown 2020: RAJAR, Ofcom, Touchpoints