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Nielsen Study Examines Ratings Boost Of All-Christmas Format
December 5, 2013

Nielsen has released a new study, taking a look at holiday music's effect on radio and retail. First off, in the top 48 markets, 28.4 million Americans listened to an all-Christmas station on Christmas Eve in 2012, which is unsurprising. Nielsen then dug further into the data for the month of December, finding the format's influence on stations by daypart.

Nielsen found that the midday daypart (M-F, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.# led the holiday ratings, with listening peaking during the 12 p.m. hour over the four-week stretch from early December to New Yearís. Last year, the audience size during middays increased 71 percent from when the stations were not in the All Christmas format. However, listening at nights #M-F 7 p.m.-midnight) saw an even more impressive jump. During the course of the Holiday ratings season, nights saw a 129 percent lift and an incredible 582 percent increased on Christmas Eve. Nielsen notes that the normal nighttime AQH on these stations in 2012 was 291,700. On Christmas Eve, it was 1.9 million.

After taking a closer look at airplay from the top 10 AC stations in 2012, Nielsen found that stations played 34 different versions of "Winter Wonderland" throughout the season. The Eurythmicsí version was the most played, at just under 600 spins. Last yearís most-played song in New York was Mariah Careyís "All I Want for Christmas Is You," while Jose Felicianoís "Feliz Navidad" topped the spin charts in Los Angeles.

Justin Bieberís lead single "Mistletoe" was the most-streamed holiday tune in 2012, with over 7.6 million streams, while three of the top six songs were different versions of "All I Want For Christmas Is You" (Bieberís duet with Mariah Carey was streamed over 3.8 million times, while the original Mariah Carey version saw 3.5 million streams, followed by Michael Bubleís take that resulted in 2.6 million streams)

Twelve million holiday-genre albums were sold in the U.S. in 2012, accounting for 3.8 percent of the entire yearís music sales. These numbers, however, were at five-year lows, representing 15 percent and 10 percent drops, respectively, from 2011, when 13.9 million holiday albums were purchased, accounting for 4.2 percent of full-year sales.

You can read Nielsen's complete report on holiday music here.

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