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Tag: "all-Christmas music"

“Holiday” 2020 Highs & Lows

| February 5, 2021

“Holiday” 2020 Highs & Lows

Virtually nothing in any facet of life was “normal” in the just-concluded calendar year, so it wouldn’t have been a monumental shock if Nielsen Audio‘s “Holiday” 2020 numbers strayed from past scripts.

Pandemic-caused modified radio listening habits, combined with a completely out-of-the-norm presidential campaign/election/aftermath, accounted for some strange wobbles compared to past “holiday” survey periods.

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April 2020 PPM Analysis: A Sweep Unlike Any Other

| June 3, 2020

By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS

LOS ANGELES — Reflective of the unique nature of what has become the “new normal” owing to coronavirus’ spread, the April 2020 ratings period had more than its share of significant twists and turns.

With COVID-19 dominating all media outlets and kitchen-table conversations across the country, this very well might have been the most anticipated sweep since electronic measurement became radio ratings currency.

It differed from the highly-precarious annual “Holiday” ratings period on a number of fairly clear-cut levels, not the least of which is the divergence between pleasant family memories contrasted against newfound angst regarding a deadly virus.

Past has definitely been prologue that stations playing all-Christmas music in a “Holiday” sweep will display sizeable upticks in that period and, in virtually 100% of the time, chalk up (by far) their best stat of the ratings calendar. It’s not uncommon for all-Christmas music stations to double or triple their 6+-stats as dozens of such outlets touch double-digits (6+), and we’ve even witnessed the shattering of the 20-share level (6+).

There is a fixed time for the programming strategy – usually a week or two before Thanksgiving and running through Christmas Day. The outcome can be accurately predicted as much as nine months in advance.

Absolutely gaudy figures we are accustomed to seeing from music-intensive stations entrenched in playing holiday hits did not surface – for the most part – from spoken-word stations in April 2020.

One barometer though of a significant station shift in the electronic-measurement age is a sweep-to-sweep fluctuation in excess of one full-share.

To put things in the most vivid perspective: There were nearly four times as many of these swings (April 2020, 6+) as were registered one year ago (April 2019).

Open for debate is when the coronavirus should have been taken seriously. It’s worth remembering that the sitting POTUS was impeached by Congress in December 2019 and acquitted by the Senate on February 5, 2020. A fatality reported by Washington State officials later that month (2/29) was initially thought to be the earliest U.S. coronavirus-related death (although it’s now believed that at least two others died from the illness several weeks earlier).

Given that the final date of the April 2020 sweep was April 22, the just-concluded ratings period would mirror roughly two months of COVID-19 coverage.

There’s no contemporary history of what radio ratings look like when – in a matter of weeks – the country suffers flu-related deaths by the tens of thousands. Prognosticating ratings results was, therefore, uncharted (morbid) territory.

Playing all-Christmas music works in every market – virtually every time. It doesn’t matter if it’s a blue state or red state; a warm weather climate or a cold weather region. Appetite exists for that programming at that time of the year and it can’t be found on any broadcast or cable television network. Completely unknown was the level of desire for pandemic news on radio.

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PPM Analysis: “Holiday” 2019 Extra

| February 11, 2020

By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS

LOS ANGELES —  A time-honored tradition continues this week as the first workout for major league baseball pitchers and catchers will be held for roughly half the teams tomorrow (Wednesday, 2/12), while battery-mates for approximately the other half of MLB teams return to work Thursday (2/13).

Thus, the calendar confirms what “King Kelly” (Ray Milland) and “Monk Lanigan” (Paul Douglas) would state in the 1949 film of the same name, “It Happens Every Spring.”

Those in radio have been accustomed to wild ratings fluctuations this time of year and have a consensus reaction: “It happens every ‘holiday’ ratings period.”

For historical context, ever since Arbitron (and now Nielsen Audio) added a thirteenth yearly sweep called “Holiday” in 2007, we’ve witnessed positive spikes by stations playing wall-to-wall Christmas for a roughly six-week period leading up to December 25.

Concurrently, there’s usually a corresponding decline in listenership to stations not caught up in the all-Christmas music mood.

The following breakouts reflect those stations in PPM-markets that either improved their 6+-stat by at least one full-share or regressed by that margin or greater in the “Holiday” 2019 sweep (December 5, 2019 – January 1, 2020).

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Naughty Or Nice

| January 10, 2020

By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS

LOS ANGELES —  Fully-synchronized with flipping the calendar From October to November, a number of FM music programmers (mostly from the adult contemporary format) couldn’t contain their giddiness as they prepared to temporarily transition their stations to all-Christmas music.

This programming strategy has heretofore proven to be a ratings blockbuster.

In our December 2019 ratings recap “extra,” let’s see if playing wall-to-wall holiday hits is still growing strong or starting to wane.

The following breakouts reflect those stations in the 48 PPM-markets that either increased their 6+-stat by at least one full-share or faltered by that margin in the December 2019 sweep (November 7 – December 4).

Hefty positive November 2019 – December 2019 movement is more often than not directly attributable to the all-Christmas music phenomenon.

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“Holiday” 2018 PPM Analysis: Adult Contemporary

| February 1, 2019

By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS

LOS ANGELES — The third of four installments of our comprehensive look at “Holiday” 2018 overviews is for adult contemporary – the format that leads the way in the all-Christmas music programming strategy.

While stations from other formats engage in wall-to-wall Christmas music, adult contemporary was the originator and, by an overwhelming majority, it remains the most common proponent.

Full disclosure: Not every adult contemporary station listed here played all-Christmas music during the “Holiday” 2018 sweep and some ACs (14% of our sample) even register a December 2018 – “Holiday” 2018 decline.

Regardless if they programmed all-Christmas music roughly between Thanksgiving week and Christmas Day, all adult contemporary facilities that rank in the top 20 in a PPM-market (6+, “Holiday” 2018) comprise the following scoreboards in the industry’s most extensive overview of a “Holiday” ratings sweep.

Nielsen Audio only releases audience estimates for stations that subscribe to its services. Owing to that reason, ratings information in this “Holiday” 2018 report are limited to stations that pay Nielsen Audio for its data.

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PPM Analysis: 2017 in Review

| February 13, 2018

By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor
TALKERS

LOS ANGELES — As was once again documented in exhaustive detail in our exclusive series of “Holiday” 2017 overviews posted here last week, the “Holiday” sweep is without question the most volatile of Nielsen Audio’s 13 ratings periods per calendar year, particularly as it relates to music radio. 

Historically, the December and January survey periods produce the next wildest activity as they directly lead up to and follow the “Holiday” momentum; things tend to quickly shake back to a sense of “normalcy” in the January report.

Owing to major programming modifications (primarily all-Christmas music), listening patterns change significantly, of course, in November and December.

Given that a variety of formats are impacted, pronounced ratings swings in the aforementioned survey periods are hardly limited though to music-intensive formats.

In anticipation of next week’s January 2018 results, let’s examine the extent and 2017 timeline of high/low fluctuations registered by a comprehensive cross-section of spoken-word stations.

Each facility shown here (a) appeared in all 13 ratings periods (January 2017 through “Holiday” 2017), notching a minimum of .1 (6+) each time and (b) reached 1.0 or higher (6+) at least once in the last 13 sweeps.

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