Although the most recent holiday season has faded from memory for most, on the radio airwaves there are a few final presents just now being unwrapped for Adult Contemporary (AC) stations. The release of Nielsen’s holiday book portable people meter (PPM) ratings reveals a surprising result from the end of the 2017 listening year. The AC format set a new all-time high for audience share in during the holiday season.
AC stations are more likely to flip to the “all-Christmas” music format at the end of the year than other formats, and this year AC reaped the rewards big-time. Across Nielsen’s PPM markets the AC format set an all-time record for highest audience share (among all listeners 6+) in both the December survey (10.5% in 2017) and the Holiday survey (13.9% in 2017). In both months, AC was the top-ranked format, jumping ahead of News/Talk, which generally ranks No. 1 in 6+ audience share during the rest of the year.
Meanwhile, the start of holiday music on the radio on or around Thanksgiving has implications for many formats outside of just AC. Historically, AC tends to jump dramatically as a result of going “all-Christmas” at the end of the year, while some formats stay flat and others decline because of the change in seasonal listening habits. Last year’s results were, for the most part, consistent with historical trends. The chart below details the change in audience share between the November and Holiday surveys for major radio formats—both on a five-year aggregate basis and in 2017.
Data used in this article is inclusive of multicultural audiences. Hispanic consumer audiences are composed of both English and Spanish-speaking representative populations.