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When Should Christmas Music Start?

January 7, 2020

The recently released December survey gave us the first glimpse of the power of Christmas music. Almost every station that made the switch saw a dramatic increase in their shares. But, when you look under the hood, you may find a completely different story.

We have not examined every PPM market but we have seen enough to, if not draw conclusions, at least start a conversation. The beauty of PPM data is that we can get extremely granular. We can track a station’s day-by-day progress down to the quarter-hour.

Which brings us to the question of – when should Christmas music start?

Most markets saw the flip occur the week before Thanksgiving which was the third week of the December survey, which ran November 7th through December 4th. Many stations went as early as the first day of the December book. Which move was the right one?

We would suggest that flipping closer to Thanksgiving is the better model. The appetite for Christmas music seems to grow exponentially once the turkey has been carved. And, it keeps growing right up until the big day. Even though listening levels on Thanksgiving and Black Friday are lower than normal, the Santa stations seem to reap the most benefit. PUMM may be down but shares go up.

So, what of those early weeks? Does flipping so far ahead of the holiday drive in or drive away cume? Is this a winning formula or an opportunity for the competition?

The Christmas freaks will flock to you but how many of your loyal P1s will seek alternative forms of entertainment?

Clearly, we have more questions than answers.

Results will vary by market. However, our initial research is telling us that the earlier flips will not always be the ratings bonanza the bigger picture may suggest.

The Ratings Experts from Research Director, Inc. have both the tools and the expertise to help you locate and interpret this information. We would be happy to help.

That shameless plug aside, we strongly urge you to do some deep data mining on both the December and Holiday surveys. Whether you are the Christmas station or fighting one, the numbers can inform your strategy for 2020. There is no question that from Thanksgiving to Christmas the designated holiday station will be a dominant force. What happens before and after can have a huge effect on the competitive landscape.

-Steve Allan, Programming Research Consultant

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