Monday, February 23, 2015

Nielsen: January 'Awesome' For Sports Stations

The January PPMs were 'simply awesome' for Sports stations', according to Nielsen.  It cites the NFL playoffs as living up to their already high standards for both excitement and on-field controversy. And if that weren’t enough, anybody not living off the grid heard about, talked about and wondered about the air pressure standards of professional footballs in the run-up to the Super Bowl. For the record, the January survey ended on Jan. 28, the Wednesday before the big game. The result was the best January ever in PPM measurement for Sports among listeners 6 and older (5.1%) and those aged 25-54 (5.7%). The format’s 18-34 January results (3.9%) were second only to January of 2012 when Sports recorded a 4.2%.

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AC, which leads the pack each season for holiday listening, was coming off a strong holiday book that was a standout year for the annual “all-Christmas” format compared to years past. That positive momentum carried over into January, with AC recording a 7.6% among audiences 6 and older, an improvement of about 3% over last January (7.4%). Hot AC also did well this January, quite well in fact, setting a new record for the format's best January (6.3%) to date. To put this in perspective, Hot AC has gained nearly three full share points since January of 2011 (see chart below).

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Country radio continues to be a hot topic of conversation, as the end of 2014 brought a well-documented stretch of declining audience shares that ended in last month’s holiday book. January delivers some positive results, particularly in historical context, but it also comes with a significant caveat when talking about Millennial (aged 18-34) audiences.

First, the good news: Country’s 6+ share this month (7.5%) was its second-highest January share in PPM, behind only last year’s 7.7%. And among listeners 25-54, the format matched the January high water mark of last year (also 7.5%), meaning the two best January surveys for Country in PPM measurement have come in the last two years. These results position the format well to build its audience in the first half of 2015 leading up to the annual seasonal summer peak of Country listening.

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On the other hand, this month’s 18-34 results (8.6%) mark the lowest January in two years and the lowest non-holiday book share for Country since January 2013. It was only seven months ago that Country scored its best 18-34 numbers ever in PPM (10.6% in June of 2014); that’s a change of two full share points from then until now. After two years of consistent 18-34 audience growth, Country finds itself this month back at the same place it was before that growth trend began. Needless to say, the next six months will be very interesting as we track Country’s performance among the Millennial audience.

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