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Coronavirus Listener Data: Audio Streams Rebound for Second Week as Video Continues Steady Increase

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Despite slow gains, consumption units are down 9.9% overall amid the COVID-19 economic shutdown.

In the fourth week of the coronavirus-driven economic shutdown of the U.S., the country's overall consumption units were up again. The 0.74% increase for the week ending April 9 marks the second consecutive week of growth for those units -- which include video views -- after the industry enjoyed a 1.12% gain the week prior.

But both of those weeks are increasing from the year-to-date weekly low count of 13.4 million album consumption units for the week ending March 19. That was the first full week after the U.S. economic shutdown became pronounced, with major sports leagues, concerts and other events shut down and people across the country beginning to widely self-quarantine.

In examining the U.S. market, it's important to note that Nielsen Music/MRC Data has reprocessed its data year-to-date retroactively back to the beginning of their year, Jan. 3, 2020, which has resulted in a shift in the numbers reported for some formats, with the most notable shift occurring in video streams.

For last week -- week 14 of the Nielsen/MRC calendar -- overall consumption units including video totaled 13.68 million, versus the prior week's 13.58 million total and 13.4 million the week before that.

On average, consumption units are down 9.9% during the COVID-19 economic shutdown, averaging 13.6 million units for the last four weeks as compared to 15.1 million units during the first 10 weeks of the year.

For on-demand streams, consumption began sliding in the week ending March 12, falling 1.3% to 19.84 billion, down from 19.9 billion the prior week. The following week, ending March 19, streams fell 7.5% to 18.16 billion. That downward trend continued, declining 2.3% for the week ending March 26, when streams hit 17.75 billion.

In the subsequent two weeks, however, overall streams began to grow again. In the week ending April 2, they increased 1.9% to 18.1 billion; and rose another 1.7% to 18.4 billion for the week ending April 9.

For the first 10 weeks of the year, overall on-demand streams averaged 19.7 billion units, but over the last four weeks -- beginning March 13 and ending April 9 -- the weekly average totaled just 18.1 billion.

For audio streams specifically, after three consecutive weeks of declines from March 6 to 26, overall streams had a two-week rebound, growing 1.5% to 15.03 billion and then growing 1.7% to 15.3 billion for the respective weeks ending April 2 and April 9. Still, audio streams -- with a 15.1 billion weekly average during the pandemic shutdown -- are far below the 16.9 million average seen in the first 10 weeks of the year.

In Nielsen Music/MRC Data's reprocessing of data, the video on-demand streaming format was impacted the most, changing the overall volume. Still, video has experienced slight increases in each of the last four weeks beginning March 13 and ending April 9.

Meanwhile, Deezer continues to report shifts on when and how people are listening to music. As consumers become used to spending more time at home, the digital service reports that music listening is once again trending toward the earlier morning hours, instead of mid-morning. Deezer previously reported that it was seeing people shifting to devices other than their mobile phones to listen to music while they were home.

In comparing the week ending March 29 to the prior week, Deezer -- whose weekly calendar ends each Sunday as opposed to each Thursday (the calendar used by Nielsen/MRC) -- is continuing to see increases for most of the same devices, with Amazon’s Alexa up 10%; Chromecast up 25%, Google Asistant up 7%, Android TV up 13%, Xbox up 17%, desktop computers up 11%, tablets up 8% and Sonos up 8%, the company reports.