What Men Want (On The Airwaves)
June 4, 2013
When I sat down to start writing this column and chose the title of "What Men Want," you can imagine some of the entertaining answers that came to mind ... the majority of which are not fit for print! But, instead of simply dismissing these with a laugh, I decided it might be a useful exercise to examine male radio listening in PPM markets. You might be very surprised which formats draw the most men and where those guys are heading when they flip from one station to another. The data doesn't necessarily match up to what we might assume men are listening to.
Thankfully, there's a lot of information to look at to figure out what's going on.
Let's start with the newly released Radio Today 2013 national listening study, which contains a wealth of data including which formats have the highest percentage of male listeners. In short order they are: Sports (which is 84% male) followed by Active Rock (74%), AOR/Mainstream Rock (71%), Classic Rock (70%), Alternative (62%) and News/Talk (59%).
While these formats have the highest percentages of male listeners, they aren't necessarily generating the most shares of male listening. Looking at the 48 PPM markets, here are the top male 25-54 formats by audience share in the Fall of 2012, for the full week daypart:
48 PPM Markets. Full Week Ranker. Men 25-54. Fall 2012
*Rock is a custom combination, for the purposes of this column, of Alternative + Active Rock + AOR + Mainstream Rock.
48 PPM Markets. Full Week Daypart. Audience Sharing %. Scarborough USA+ Release 2 2012
It's not surprising to see News/Talk and Sports leading the way for male listening in PPM markets book-to-book and with our hybrid combination of Rock formats (for the purpose of this article) right behind ... things start off much as you might expect amongst the male audience.
However, once you move beyond them, it's notable how crowded the playing field becomes with formats that on the surface don't spring to mind when talking about male listening. AC and Top 40 both outrank the traditionally male-leaning Classic Rock format, while Country and Mexican Regional are sixth and seventh though not shown above.
Now, if I had asked you to envision the ranker before revealing it, once we took News/Talk and Sports off the board, would you have picked AC and Top 40 as being two of the most popular male formats? I know I wouldn't have.
So now, let's look at where male listeners go when they change the station away from their primary format of choice. In other words, what formats share the most listenership with the top male formats of News/Talk, Sports, "Rock" and Classic Rock.
Top 40 (40%)
Top 40 (44%)
Hot AC (39%)
Hot AC (34%)
Top 40 (38%)
Top 40 (33%)
Hot AC (37%)
Hot AC (37%)
Classic Hits (34%)
How to read: 38% of Male 25-54 News/Talk listeners also listen to AC during the week
Surprisingly, the top format for guys who use News/Talk, Sports, "Rock" or Classic Rock is either AC or Top 40. Granted, in a few cases we are talking about just a percentage point or two, but the fact that the leading format for male listeners when they tune away also strays outside the traditional male realm is pretty significant.
What's It Mean?
So even though both AC and Top 40 both skew 60-40 female to male, both formats are currently attracting such large audiences that the 40% that's male represents a sizable amount of men. And even though they aren't necessarily the target audience, it would appear that men are playing a large role in keeping these two formats atop the ranker for total cume and helping fuel the absolute ratings tear that Top 40 has been on over the last 18 months.
It also means that mainstream pop music is playing a larger role in male listening patterns than you might expect. Whether that is generational, meaning fathers are able to agree with their children on Top 40 and AC stations when they are in the car together, or due to a lack of mainstream mass appeal Rock music that drives big audiences, or because of some other factor, stations that target males need to think beyond their traditional competitors when assessing their market and how to maximize audience shares.