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Trending Long-Term Radio Listening Habits in February

2 minute read | March 2018

Another year is nearly a quarter complete, and the pace of change in the media landscape continues to nudge habits and consumer behavior month after month. In the world of radio, we’ve been noting the impact of shifting habits and cyclical trends that appear consistently in the data and Nielsen’s February portable people meter (PPM) ratings give us a chance to weigh those cycles—and changes—over a significant period of time.

Specifically, we’re now able to compare eight years of monthly data across the same formats and demographics, going back to the completion of the rollout of electronic (PPM) measurement for radio, which happened in late 2010.

And as we detailed last month, Adult Contemporary (AC) is off to a strong start in 2018, one of it’s strongest of all time since the advent of PPM measurement.

Continuing the trend from last month as well, News/Talk was strong again in February, and helped by annual considerations such as nor’easter season in the northeast and a newer surge in interest ever since the new administration came into office. A good comparison to make to judge News/Talk’s performance (which includes both commercial and non-commercial stations in PPM markets) is to contrast this February with the same month in 2014—entering the second full year of the presidential administration. You’ll see that the format has increased its share of audience significantly across the board in 2018.

While these formats are noting changes over a longer horizon, it is also revealing to shorten the scope and compare trends in January and February of last year with trends in the same months from this year. What’s more, the year-over-year changes for the top radio formats among Millennials (ages 18-34) offer some key insight into how the tastes of younger listeners are changing.

The table below compares the audience share in January and February combined between 2017 and 2018 for the top 10 most popular formats among Millennials. Pop Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR) remains the top format, but tune-in has declined nearly a full share point in the past year. Hot AC and Urban Contemporary are also down, year-over-year, while AC, Alternative and Classic Hits are all up more significantly.

Data used in this article is inclusive of multicultural audiences. Hispanic consumer audiences are composed of both English and Spanish-speaking representative populations.

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