Omicron Update: January

New covid-19 omicron variant. Concept Medical and COVID-19 Omicron

With the Omicron variant pushing COVID numbers far beyond last winter’s peak, we wanted to get fresh data on how coronavirus-weary people were feeling in the face of this new surge. So, we fielded a fresh sample of over 1500 adults ages 18-64 nationwide last week. We started with vaccination status, shown below compared to the nationwide sample of 18-64’s we’d gathered on the last two days of November 2021. You can watch a video of the results presentation here

While these new data show steady progress on boosters, they show NO change in terms of overall vaccination levels, nor any softening among those who do not intend to get vaccinated. Vaccinations and booster shots are most numerous in the Northeast and Western US – and least numerous in the Southern US, where just 60% of these 18-64’s have gotten even one shot, as shown in the chart below.

Unvaccinated numbers are highest in the Midwest, with 21% saying no to vaccination. Adding in those who are undecided about vaccinations brings the South up to nearly a third who just say no or maybe/maybe not. It’s important to note, however, that across all four major regions of the US, around 60% are at least moderately concerned about Omicron, as shown below. The Midwest and Western regions show 45% apiece saying they’re taking at least a few precautions against this new variant.

Vaccination status plays a role in Omicron concern, of course. Among the vaccinated, 70% are at least moderately concerned and nearly half are taking at least a few precautions. Among the unvaccinated, just over a third are at least moderately concerned and less than a quarter are taking any precautions.

These concerns play a role in deciding whether people will attend station events. Comparing our data from post-Thanksgiving November with those from last week shows predictions of “Definitely would attend” up at least a few points for all six activities tracked in the chart below. Now, fully 23% are comfortable attending an indoor concert and a third are comfortable in a restaurant.

Diving deeper into the new data shows another 16%-22% who say they would probably attend – and another 11%-14% who are watching case counts and would be ready to join in these activities IF numbers improve.

Past data has shown that organizers could pick up some of those who say they would “probably attend” by adding a vaccination requirement. We didn’t include that line of questioning in this study and given the major concerns about the extreme transmissibility of Omicron, it’s not even safe to assume that additional turnout would hold true here. Plus, adding a vaccination requirement guarantees loss of attendance by those who aren’t vaccinated – and risks pushback from those individuals.

We can hope that the Omicron breakout in the US follows the pattern seen in South Africa, where the steep rise in cases is being followed by steep decline.

NuVoodoo Ratings Prospects Study 19 is out of the field and our team is poring over the data and building the presentation we’ll be sharing in a free webinar on February 16 at 1 PM EST, 10 AM PST. Go to to reserve your spot. As in prior studies, we’ll compare the typical radio listener to that rare person willing to participate in the Nielsen ratings. In less than 40 minutes, we’ll cover a lot of ground:

  • How often listeners use streaming apps, from Spotify, Apple, and Amazon to Soundcloud, Tune-in, and iHeart. We’ll see how well local AM/FM radio streaming apps fare by comparison.
  • Deep dives into Smart Speakers, Car Audio Systems and Podcast listening trends.
  • Daily and chronic use of social media apps. Given recent news, we also asked listeners to share any psychological toll that using social media is taking on them – and what compels them to use certain apps so much.
  • We’ll compare and trend the lure of typical radio station cash offers and contest packaging tactics. Plus, we’ll share some practical steps radio stations can take to battle the perception that sweepstakes are not on-the-level.
  • We’ll look at radio station marketing strategies, including social media, connected TV, direct mail, outdoor, and telemarketing, and show you which have actually caused listeners to tune in and listen more.
  • We’ll look at work-from-home and listen-at-work (out of home) trends and compare the impact on radio station TSL.
  • For years, we’ve looked at tune-in catalysts. Now, for the first time, we’ve tested an extensive list of potential tune-out catalysts. We’ll share what radio stations do that drives listeners away.

Join us Wednesday, February 16th at 1 PM EST, 10 AM PST for NuVoodoo Ratings Prospects Study 19. You can register here.