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Radio Rules Christmas

March 12, 2015

Radio has been living in fear of Pandora and the other pure plays for some time. In the weeks leading up to Christmas 2014, there was much speculation that, with the amount of online choices available, consumers would abandon their traditional holiday listening choices.

Then, the cold winds blew in from the north and reality prevailed.

We looked at the top 15 markets and compared the year-over-year performances – on a P6+ basis – of the home-to-metro stations that switched to all-Christmas in both 2013 and 2014. Of those markets, Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood was the only one without a full-time holiday outlet.

The results may surprise you. Of the 17 stations we looked at (Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston-Galveston, and Philadelphia each had 2), 13 of them had better shares in 2014 versus 2013. Taken in aggregate, the winning stations increased their share by 16.1% overall. And, the “losing” stations should not be pitied – all still had monster shares.

There were major stories all around the country. WASH increased by 28.3% while WMJX exploded by 39.8%. At the same time, Triton reported that listening to broadcast-based streams fell 53% from earlier in the same month, while the pure plays dropped 12.6%.

While we cannot compare year-to-year results for the online world, one thing stands out from this data. Consumers will still turn on and tune in to radio when they find something compelling or when the product dovetails with their current need.

Granted, all-Christmas music is a quick high. And, this is a small fraction of all radio markets that does not take into account local influences and market conditions. Yet, as we see with severe weather and the News format – people know and use radio on a fairly consistent basis. Our challenge is to improve on that consistency while never losing sight of the fact that radio remains a viable, valuable, and vibrant medium – even if it isn’t as sexy as its digital imitators.

The table below displays the P6+ AQH Share trends of the all-Christmas stations in the top 15 Nielsen radio metros.


Data © 2015 Nielsen Audio, Mon-Sun 6A-12Mid

-Steve Allan, Programming Research Consultant