According to Nielsen, the AC format received an average 72% ratings lift during the holiday months over the last five years, while soft AC was up 40%. During that same time frame it was country-formatted stations that typically took the biggest hit, losing an average of 14% of listening, followed by regional Mexican (minus 11%).
Looking at the 2017 Holiday ratings period in the Top 20 markets, Inside Radio sees the trend continuing, while also seeing some deterioration of numbers for CHR and modern rock stations due to competitors in the market going all-Christmas.
There was no good tidings and cheer for the country format which lost share in 15 of the markets we examined. In Baltimore, iHeartMedia country WPOC (93.1) saw the largest single station decrease, falling 2.6 share from November through the Nielsen Holiday 2017 ratings period. Dallas-Ft. Worth, where Cumulus Media owns two country stations – KPLX and KSCS – weathered a 1.8 decrease in format share for the market. Country stations in Detroit, Minneapolis, San Diego, St. Louis and Tampa all shed a share or more.
While not as dramatic a loss in share as country, regional Mexican saw slides in Houston, where KLTN was down 1.7; Los Angeles, where KSCA and KLAX were down a combined 1.5 share; and KXPK Denver declined just shy of a full share.
CHR stations seem to be taking a ratings hit as well from AC stations that went all-Christmas. CHRs in Phoenix, Boston, Miami and Atlanta were all down a share or more from November through the Holiday book.
And if you thought listeners to modern rock don’t appreciate classic Christmas carols, you’d be wrong. Emmis Communications “105.7 The Point” KPNT St. Louis was down 1.7, while iHeartMedia “Radio 104.5” WRFF Philadelphia dropped 1.4. Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, DC, Detroit and Phoenix all saw less than a share drop.
“The stations going all-Christmas are having an effect not just on their own ratings but also on the audiences of a lot of other stations in the market, too,” Jon Miller, Nielsen VP of Audience Insight, said. “Going to Christmas creates a dynamic in the radio listening marketplace that doesn’t exist during the rest of the year and it changes the way people use radio.”