Without a commute, is it radio silence for AM/FM channels? Not quite.

Back to All Posts
Blog / Audio Entertainment

Without a commute, is it radio silence for AM/FM channels? Not quite.

Signal Hill Insights, in partnership with Radio Connects, released its annual Radio On The Move survey, exploring how Canadians are engaging with all forms of audio. This year’s report in particular measured how the pandemic has impacted audio behaviours and consumption.


Insights from the report confirm AM/FM Radio’s dominance as the primary audio reach medium. Whether over the air or streamed via a digital device, AM/FM radio’s ability to reach more Canadians in the past week is far greater than any other audio platform available to advertisers.  


The survey shows, as Canadians adjusted to working from home, they are streaming more audio, including AM/FM radio. During the lockdown, Canadians are using smart speakers and smartphones to listen to their favourite radio stations, playlists, and podcasts. In fact, penetration and use of smartphones for all types of audio keep rising, up 5 points since 2020. Smartphones have now surpassed computers as the main device for streaming most audio, including AM/FM at 38%. Additionally, 50% of Canadians 18+ have a radio in their home, 18% have a radio and a smart speaker, and 13% have only a smart speaker for audio listening.

Growth in audio streams from 2019 to 2020 was estimated at +16%, less than the initial momentum experienced in 2015 through 2017 when Spotify launched in Canada and Canadians began “renting” versus “owning” their personal music. Even so, 86% of Canadians who use music streaming services still listen to AM/FM radio on a typical weekday. The data suggests that most daily listeners of ad-supported streaming services also listen to AM/FM radio on a typical weekday. Also noted is the fact that Spotify’s growth, while up from last year, is being driven by its ad-free service and users moving to paid subscriptions.


Even though the pandemic has kept many Canadians off the roads, the report explores how many Canadians have “connected cars.”  It found that while Android Auto and Apple CarPlay were getting into more cars, pushing the number of connected cars up by 8 points from 2020, its total ownership was available to fewer than 3 in 10 Canadians with a vehicle in their household. Also interesting is the fact that Canadians with a connected car listen to more, not less, AM/FM radio than other Canadians.


Important insights for marketers around “attention” can also be found in this year’s report. When asked how much attention is paid to what is being said between songs, 63% of those who reported listening to AM/FM radio answered they were paying attention. When those who listen to free music streaming services were asked the same question, 53% said they paid “not much” or “no attention” at all. The report also found ads on AM/FM radio are the least avoided of all advertising platforms. Included in the report is data from an Australian research group that evaluated PPM tuning in Vancouver. Its findings reported only 3% of listeners actually changed the station when an ad came on.


Radio On The Move was conducted in February 2021. The full report is available on the radioconnects.ca  website. 

Caroline Gianias & Lisa Dillon

Tagged Categories: