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Another Classic Feeling for Summer Radio
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Another Classic Feeling for Summer Radio

So far, the summer of 2017 is turning out to be a lot like last year when it comes to American radio listening habits. Each year in the summer, audiences shift and certain formats surge during the dog days of the year. And with the release of Nielsen’s portable people meter (PPM) results for the July survey, a very similar story—as we’ve seen in past summers—is playing out again.

Classic Hits and Classic Rock stations are once again vying for the format of the summer designation; in this, we look at major music formats across the first five months of the year and then compare those with the results of the June, July and August surveys.

Last month we profiled the lead that Classic Rock had built up when comparing the June data with the prior months of the year. The summer of 2017, however, is turning into a two-horse race, with Classic Hits making strides in July. Classic Rock’s June and July audience share increased 9% from the beginning of the year, with Classic Hits just behind, up 6% over that same time.

From June to July, Classic Hits, which is generally identified with playing more pop music from the same musical eras as Classic Rock, benefitted from an increase in share of audience across all three major demographics we monitor. But the real gains came with from Millennials (18-to-34 year-olds) and listeners 25-to-54: The audience share among Millennials grew from 3.8% to a record-tying 4.0%, and the share among listeners 25-to-54 increased from 4.9% to 5.1% to tie another record for audience share in PPM measurement.

Meanwhile, for Country radio, the days of setting new records in the summer are now in the rearview mirror; despite the slowed growth, however, the format has seen an uptick in tune-in this summer, with the share among listeners 6 and older up from last July.

Summertime is the annual peak for Country listening. In 2013 and 2014, the format surged to new heights, setting a bunch of records along the way. As we prepare to crown the format of the summer next month with the August survey release, we will also be returning to examine Country’s long-term trend, with 2017 playing out (so far) to be a resilient year for the format.

Data used in this article is inclusive of multicultural audiences. Hispanic consumer audiences are composed of both English and Spanish-speaking representative populations.