Ho Ho Ho Or Bah Humbug? Nielsen Looks At How Holiday Programming Impacted Radio
January 24, 2014 at 3:59 AM (PT)
NIELSEN has released a report that recaps the holiday ratings, which spanned the four weeks between THANKSGIVING and CHRISTMAS when holiday programming fills the audio spectrum all across the country.
"Last month, in the build-up to the holiday bonanza that stretches between AMERICA’s two major end-of-year celebrations, we noticed that the early impact of CHRISTMAS music seemed to have changed the playing field among the major music formats in NIELSEN’s PPM markets when compared with the trends of years past," wrote the company on its blog. "Now, with the release of the Holiday book, we’re finding that the final scorecard for this season of CHRISTMAS programming managed to level out and, with a few notable exceptions, mirror the results seen in previous years."
Overall, AC was the leading format when it comes to holiday programming. That's been true every year in PPM markets. 2013 was no exception, as it claimed the top spot in both the 6+ and 25-54 demographics, overtaking News/Talk and Top 40, respectively. It also held the second position with 18-34 year-old listeners (Top 40 remained #1) bypassing Country in DECEMBER. But the story doesn’t end there; AC’s older sibling -- soft AC -- made more noise this year. And a few other major formats also saw their results buck the trend of years past.
Here are some highlights from NIELSEN’s Holiday PPM data across 45 markets using the full-week (MON-SUN 6a-midnight) daypart and audience shares for the 6+ demographic.
- With the second-highest number of stations that program CHRISTMAS music behind AC, Soft AC got more bang for its buck during this year’s season—to the tune of almost 30% higher increases in shares since the NOVEMBER survey—as compared with 2012. The format also won the race for largest share increase percentage-wise, rising to a 1.1 share in Holiday from a 0.6 in NOVEMBER.
- Hot AC, which had a banner year in 2013, was one of only two formats that managed to flip its Holiday slump this year from 2012. A year ago, this format’s shares dropped 6% during the holiday season but instead grew slightly this year, gaining a 10th of share-point (to 5.7 from 5.6).
- By devoting more stations to holiday programming than in years past, Classic Hits was the other format to reverse its negative trend from last year. The strategy paid off as the format held steady with a 5.2 share across all three of the most recent months.
- On the other hand, Mexican Regional went the opposite direction. After a flat trend in 2012, the number-one format with Hispanic listeners dropped 8 percent between November and Holiday, falling to 3.5 from 3.8.
How Holiday Programming Affected Major Music Formats Between November And Holiday
Format (6+ share) % change Holiday '12 % change Holiday '13
Soft AC 57% 83%
AC 76% 61%
Hot AC -6% 2%
Urban AC Flat Flat
Classic Hits -4% Flat
Top 40/R Flat -3%
Top 40/M -4% -5%
Mexican Regional Flat -8%
Country -13% -13%