Latinos Are Tuning Into Radio More Than Ever: How Their Listening Has Changed During the Pandemic

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Hispanics spend over 12 hours a week listening to radio, according to Nielsen's COVID-19 impact report.

During COVID-19, in-home radio listening increased for Hispanics from 29% in March to 39% in April, according to Cultural Connectivity Transformed: How Latinos are connecting while social distancing, a new report by Nielsen. Additionally, Hispanics are spending over 12 hours a week listening to the radio, 33 minutes more than the total market.

"The Latino community has long exhibited an outsized use of digital connections, however as a result of the circumstances of COVID-19, Latinos intensified their use of digital platforms to a greater degree than the total market, including use of social media and trusted content channels such as TV and radio to inform, communicate, share experiences and seek support," Stacie de Armas, Nielsen’s senior vp diverse insights and initiatives, said in a statement.

Nielsen's latest Diverse Intelligence Series consumer report, conducted between March through June, explores how the Latino community, which makes up nearly 18% of the total U.S., is maintaining social connectivity in times of COVID-19 and the sources they’re relying on to stay informed on all things coronavirus.

"We believe that Latinos, many essential workers, needed to continue to go to work so what do you do when you really need to know what was going on in general but specifically in your community? The one thing you could take with you to inform you, no matter if you had to go to work, was your radio station," de Armas said.

According to Nielsen, 62 percent of Hispanics say radio is a "good source" of information during COVID-19. Sixty-one are watching more news, however, only 20% of all Hispanics say cable TV news is trustworthy and 18% say it is accurate.

All in-home radio listening increased during COVID-19 and the decrease in out-of-home listening among Hispanics was smaller than the total market. But radio is not only informing the Hispanic household; it's also providing some sort of comfort and escapism to loyal listeners.

The report found that 48% of Latinos reported that listening to their favorite radio host helped them feel more informed and less stressed. Emphasizing the importance of community connections and cultural collectivism, a full 45% reported that listening to their favorite radio host during COVID-19 made them feel more connected to their community.

More than one-third of Hispanics reported more time with radio as a result of COVID-19 (37%) compared with only 24% of White non-Hispanics, and 36% of Latinos reported that during the pandemic, they have looked for new ways to listen to their favorite radio station, on-air personality and/or program. Also, Hispanics spend more time listening to radio while at home (31%) and on their mobile device (29%). 

As for top five most listened-to radio genres during COVID-19 among Hispanic adults, regional Mexican takes the lead at 14.6% followed by Spanish contemporary/Spanish hot adult contemporary (10.6%), adult contemporary or catalogue hits (8.2%), pop contemporary hit radio (7.4%) and Spanish adult hits (5.9%).

Meanwhile, 15.7% of Hispanic teens (ages 12-17) are listening to pop contemporary hit radio, 11.4% are listening to rhythmic contemporary hit radio and 11.0% are tuning into regional Mexican.

When it comes to gaming, 31% of all Hispanics say they have increased time spent playing video games online while social distancing. Between February and April, the popular game streaming apps Discord and Twitch saw a usage increase of 28% and 84%, respectively, among Hispanics.

Furthermore, the report points out that Latinos will be the primary contributors to total U.S. population growth for the next 40 years, comprising 53% of that growth in the next five years and 68% up to 2060. In 2019, Hispanics accounted for $1.7 trillion in buying power, which is 11% of total buying power in the U.S., compared to 9.1% in 2010.

It’s worth noting that Latinos have been significantly impacted financially during the pandemic. According to the Pew Research Center, the unemployment rate for Hispanics increased from 4.8 percent in February to a peak of 18.5 percent in April before dropping to 14.5 percent in June.

"There is no doubt that the Latino community has suffered tremendously economically as a result of coronavirus and it will have an impact on the buying power but that goes for all communities," de Armas said. "What I do think is that Latinos are uniquely positioned to be a tremendous part of the recovery because they are very resilient."