NY Times: War on Christmas? Not To 500 Radio Stations This Year
October 30, 2014 at 12:40 PM (PT)
With the flip to all-CHRISTMAS formats by EQUITY COMMUNICATIONS Easy Listening WEZW (EASY 93.1)/ATLANTIC CITY (NET NEWS, 10/20) and both SUMMIT MEDIA AC WEZZ (EASY 97.3) and iHEARTMEDIA AC WMJJ (MAGIC 96.5) in BIRMINGHAM, AB (NET NEWS, 10/27), the all-holiday format season is among us -- and the NEW YORK TIMES reported that the lucrative flip will be made by nearly 500 stations this year.
“I have never seen a more successful, impactful and sustainable impact on ratings as all-CHRISTMAS music,” DAN VALLIE, a consultant to WEZW and other stations, told the TIMES.
“CHRISTMAS music is comfort-zone radio for a lot of people,” EQUITY COMMUNICATIONS owner GARY FISHER said. “Given everything that has happened in ATLANTIC CITY and in SOUTH JERSEY, this music really is a link to better times. That’s why we feel it works for us early.”
According to NIELSEN, AC stations that play CHRISTMAS music enjoy ratings increases of up to 87% during the workday hours and as much as 129% in nights. On CHRISTMAS EVE, listening can go up as much as 582%.
In that light, it's no surprise to see PANDORA scheduling 35 holiday-themed channels for its audience this year, while SIRIUSXM will have eight such stations this season. Yet even though PANDORA attracted 28.6 million holiday listeners last year, that hasn't had a discernable negative impact on terrestrial radio's holiday offerings.
However, not all AC stations will ride the all-CHRISTMAS sleigh, as some programmers believe the gain of temporary listeners are outweighed by the risk of losing loyal listeners who are turned off by the seasonal hoopla. “It’s like STARBUCKS saying, ‘We’re not going to serve anything but peppermint lattes for the next six weeks',” KZPT/KANSAS CITY PD TONY LORINO said. “For those six weeks, a lot of people are going to come in and get peppermint lattes, but somebody else who’s just looking for their regular coffee is really upset.”