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Holiday Music Drives Gains for Adult Contemporary Stations
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Holiday Music Drives Gains for Adult Contemporary Stations

By the time the 12 days of Christmas conclude next week, radio listening patterns for millions of Americans will be returning to normal as people head back to work, kids go back to school and holiday decorations are slowly put away. In the meantime, the holiday season is still in full swing, and so are the annual gains in audience for Adult Contemporary (AC) radio stations across the U.S. that flipped to the “all-Christmas” format this year.

Nielsen’s portable people meter (PPM) December ratings reveal another strong month for AC radio–the format that most often switches to holiday programming at the end of the year. In fact, this year’s December result (a 10.5% share of national listening among all consumers 6 and older) represents a high water mark for AC in December dating back to the beginning of comprehensive PPM measurement.

What’s more, these increases are being driven by a significant uptick in tune-ins during the afternoon drive time daypart, also known as “PM Drive,” or weekdays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. local time. In other words, drive time truly drove the increases that AC stations saw this month. The chart below compares five years of data trends, by daypart, examining the average audience for AC radio stations during the bulk of the year compared to the November, December and Holiday surveys. AC audiences increase nearly 30% during PM Drive at the end of the year thanks to the all-Christmas format.

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