January 31, 2017 Nielsen has released a new report examining the results of its holiday PPM ratings, looking at the seasonal impact of the all-Christmas format followed historical trends and the News/Talk format closed the book on a banner year.
The 2016 holiday survey ran for five weeks this year (12/1/16 to 1/4/17) in order to close a scheduling gap in the PPM survey. The bulk of holiday music listening—which begins in earnest after Thanksgiving and peaks on Christmas—was captured and reflected in the ratings.
Adult Contemporary (AC), which flips to the all-Christmas format more than any other format, ended the year with a 12.8 percent share among all listeners 6+ to lead the way among all formats. What’s more, the 2016 holiday survey results are on par with nearly every other comparable survey year.
When assessing the impact of the holiday season on radio formats, Nielsen notes that "it’s telling to look at the long-term trends of what happens to the share of audience between November and the holiday survey." AC and Soft AC formats surge due to Christmas music, Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR) and Mexican Regional listening declines slightly, and Country is the format most affected by all-Christmas programming.
In the News/Talk format last year, ratings were boosted by an unprecedented political season. The News/Talk format typically has lower listenership during the holiday survey than at other times during the year, particularly because it happens in the middle of the strongest ratings periods of the calendar year—the fall and winter. But given the interest in the coverage leading up the U.S. presidential election, 2016 continued to buck the trend and the holiday book was one of the strongest ever recorded for News/Talk.