Nielsen Finds The Summer Of '15 Has Been Strong For Classic Hits, Country And Hot AC
August 11, 2015 at 7:48 AM (PT)
As SUMMER has kicked into high gear across the U.S., NIELSEN has been tracking the fortunes of major radio formats on the airwaves. In past YEARS, a wide variety of formats have grabbed the crown of “format of the SUMMER,” which is an unofficial race based on how each genre performs in JUNE, JULY and AUGUST compared to the first five MONTHS of the year.
Now that the season's in its final stretch, the field for this YEAR’s race has narrowed. Initially, NIELSEN saw Top 40 and Classic Rock jump out to an early lead in MARCH, with Hot AC and Country closing the gap in APRIL and Urban and Classic Hits joining the race in MAY. In JUNE, however, Classic Hits, Country and Hot AC began to pull away from the field, and that trend continued this MONTH with the release of NIELSEN’s JULY PPM data.
With just one MONTH left to go in the race, one of these three remaining contenders should be the 2015 SUMMER winner unless a dark horse makes up some significant ground in AUGUST. Hot AC is currently the hottest of the three formats in contention overall, setting continuous listening records this YEAR. But based on the rules of this race -- comparing the average of JANUARY through MAY to JUNE, JULY and AUGUST -- Classic Hits is the current leader (with overall audience shares up 9% in JUNE and JULY compared to the beginning of the YEAR) followed by Country (up 6%) and Hot AC (up 4%).
And this MONTH, NIELSEN found that Classic Hits continued its seasonal upswing by increasing audience share among listeners 6+ (trending 5.4%-5.5% from JUNE to JULY), 18-34 (3.4%-3.5%) and 25-54 (4.7%-4.8%). These results are the best for the format since last AUGUST when Classic Hits charged through the field to win the 2014 SUMMER format race. Another strong showing next MONTH could secure the first back-to-back winner in this race since its inception in 2011.
Keeping pace with Classic Hits is Country, which started slowly rebuilding its audience shares in JANUARY after a brief downtrend at the end of 2014. Since then, it's risen by more than half a share-point among both audiences 6 and older (from 7.5% in JANUARY to 8.2% in JUNE and JULY), as well as the 25-54 crowd (from 7.5% in JANUARY to 8.1% in JUNE and JULY). But the real story for Country this YEAR has been in the 18-34 arena. There, the format has jumped a full share point (from 8.6% in JANUARY to 9.6% in JULY) and sits just off the pace of 2013’s SUMMER results when Country went home the winning format.
Last but certainly not least, Hot AC is actually breaking more records this year than any other format and has been a model of consistency so far in 2015, finds NIELSEN. It has tied or set a new record for audience share each of the past four MONTHS across all of the demographics we track. JULY was no exception as Hot AC set a new high with audiences 6-plus (6.9%, up from 6.8% in JUNE) and tied previous records with listeners 18-34 (7.7%) and 25-54 (7.3%). Regardless of where Hot AC finishes this SUMMER, the past two YEARS have been the best two YEARS on record for the format since PPM measurement began.