Friday, January 24, 2014

Has Country Radio Reached The Christmas Music Tipping Point?

"One last listen to the 2013 Holidays" (report) serves up one final piece of Christmas pie and makes it clearer why upper-demo targeted radio stations post such astronomical shares each December.

Overall terrestrial radio listening appears to be going down in PPM measurement during the same period, so it seems that getting a bigger slice of a smaller pie is at least part of what's happening.

I have used these charts before and I apologize for trotting it out again, but it's a good time to ponder how country radio users felt about the tactic seven years ago.

Back in 2005 and 2006, Edison Research did a massive national online database study for Country Radio Seminar and asked country listeners about it.

Kansas City in 2013 was a case study of what we may see more and more of in 2014.  The older-targeted country station was up after jingling musical bells, while the other two - targeting under 45 - were also both up and ranked in the market's top five, by carefully not doing the same thing.

As that 2005-2006 study showed, the decision for country programmers on whether to cavort with elves and Santa's helpers or not has always been a difficult one, but it's going to be even tougher - and important to know who else is going to do it - in the coming year.


Jaye Albright's Facebook friends said...

Anna Cherry: For what's worth, I love the traditional country tunes like "Pretty Paper" and "Christmas in Dixie." But the radio plays junk like 'Til Santa's Gone (Milk and Cookies)' & All I Want for Christmas is a Real Good Tan and about 30 Carrie Underwood-sounding records in between.

Karen Hanf Hartinger: I agree with Anna... the other thing I have a problem with is Christmas music programming that is so one dimensional. There are more than 200 of the same songs, over and over, in any genre. And I love the classics. I like some of the new ones too. If the stations could make the Christmas music season more exciting they might have more of a buy in.

Buzz Jackson: Here's the situation as I see it: 1) you have people who can't stand the nonstop Christmas music on the AC station. They are looking for an alternative, and often country fits that bill, particularly in a place like Tucson where there's a lot of sharing. Your mileage may vary.

Anna Cherry: Country should be country & stop trying to pick up disgruntled A C pukes.

Buzz Jackson: Anna radio is a zero sum game. For country to grow, they have to come from somewhere. The good news is that the lifegroups are largely compatible. At least in my market, if they're a P1 to the country station, chances are they are P2 to the AC station, and vice versa. Reality is, listeners don't necessarily think of their music as belonging to different categories or formats. They just like the music they like.

Lance Pry said...

Country music is an Island. Some cross over; you're country or you're not. Traditionalist Country Christmas songs vs. mainstream Christmas songs... Mainstream will be favored most of the time. That's why most the Christmas Music stations do so well during the holidays = Everybody flocks.

Chris Byrnes said...

What Nielsen failed to also point out is that there are fewer AC stations in 2013 than there were in 2011. There are also 97 more radio stations on the air in 2013(10,870)than were on the air in 2011(10,773). They also do not account for stations outside of these two formats who went all Xmas including those stations who are reported as Hot AC. But don't kid yourself, those stations that do All Christmas right see a jump in both market share and to the bottom line.