With summer’s heat in the rearview mirror and pumpkin-spiced everything filling the shelves, we are turning our attention to fall and, on the radio dial, to the seasonal change in habits that corresponds with cooling temperatures and shorter days. Also behind us is the heat of the annual summer push to rule the airwaves, where Classic Hits grabbed headlines last month and was crowned “format of the summer.”
Now, with the release of Nielsen’s September portable people meter (PPM) ratings for U.S. radio, we’re seeing that some of the formats that popped during the summer months are maintaining the momentum while others are rebounding from seasonal declines. The September survey covered the last three weeks of August through Labor Day, and the storylines include Urban Contemporary setting records across the board, Country moving to near-record levels and spikes for both Sports and Spanish-language music.
Urban Contemporary tops the headlines by posting the format's best month ever in PPM measurement. This comes on the heels of 2014, which was Urban Contemporary’s best ratings year, and so far 2015 looks to be even better. From August to September, the format grew in all three of the demographics we profile, with listening share rising from 3.6% to 3.7% with all audiences 6+ and from 4.1% to 4.2% among listeners 25-54. But it was with 18-to-34 year-olds where things really took off, with listening share jumping from 6.6% to 6.9%. Using the chart below to track the format’s September progress over time, you’ll see that Urban Contemporary has gained nearly two full share points with 18-to-34 year-olds since 2012.
For Country, September was also a good month, particularly among audiences 18-34 and 25-54. This month marked the seventh consecutive month of growth with 18-to-34 year-olds, where the format has gained nearly two share points since the most recent Holiday survey (7.9% in Holiday to 9.8% in September). The 9.8% in September matches last year’s result when Country was coming off its largest summer ever. Of course, that success was also followed by a half-year of decline, and that trend will be top of mind as we track Country into the final stretch of the year. But speaking of Country’s record-setting summer of 2014, this month’s 8.3% in the 25-54 demo is just a 10th of a share-point away from the all-time high mark of 8.4% set in July 2014.
Finally, below are several other highlights from Nielsen’s September PPM data across 45 markets* using the full-week (Monday-Sunday 6 a.m.-midnight) daypart audience shares.
|Persons 6+||Adults 18-34||Adults 25-54|
|News/Talk (8.8%)||Pop CHR (8.7%)|
|Country (8.2%)||Country (8.3%)|
|Pop CHR (7.9%)||Hot AC (7.4%)||AC (7.2%)|
|AC (7.4%)||Urban Contemporary (6.9%)||Hot AC (7.1%)|
|Hot AC (6.6%)||AC (6.5%)||News/Talk (6.1%)|
|PPM—Portable people meter. CHR—Contemporary Hit Radio. AC—Adult Contemporary.
*Nielsen Audio officially has 48 measured PPM markets, but three of them (Nassau-Suffolk, Middlesex-Somerset-Union, and San Jose) are included in the larger New York and San Francisco metro areas. Therefore, the listening data from those markets are included in these results even though we did not break them out separately.
Data used in this report is inclusive of multicultural audiences. Hispanic consumer audiences are composed of both English and Spanish speaking representative populations.