Classic Hits Take The Crown For Radio Format of The Summer





The passing of Labor Day and the annual shifting of perspectives toward the close of the year brings another opportunity to reflect on the trends that shaped the summer media landscape. And with the release of Nielsen’s August portable people meter (PPM) ratings for U.S. radio, it’s also time to judge which major national format saw the most lift in audience between June and August compared to the first five months of the year (January through May).

This annual race to crown the “format of the summer” is now in its fifth year, and for the first time, we have a repeat winner: Classic Hits takes home the title in 2015 and becomes the first format to win the race twice and the first to win in back-to-back years.

This year, Classic Hits faced some stiff competition from a number of other formats, including Hot Adult Contemporary (AC) and Country, both of which also had strong showings. But in the end, the audience share for Classic Hits jumped by nearly 10% (9.7%) this summer, the most of any major format.


Persons 6+ Summer 2011 Share Increase (%) Summer 2012 Share Increase (%) Summer 2013 Share Increase (%) Summer 2014 Share Increase (%) Summer 2015 Share Increase (%)
Adult Contemporary (AC) -3.3 -3.6 -5.3 -4.1 Flat
Album Adult Alternative -11.9 Flat 4 -8.3 7
Album Oriented Rock -4.4 3.8 8.4 Flat Flat
All News -7.6 Flat -9.3 -14.3 -13.4
All Sports -2.7 -5.3 Flat -2.4 -3.8
Alternative -8.2 7.5 7.6 Flat Flat
Classic Hits 4.1 Flat 2.2 10 9.7
Classic Rock 6 3.2 5.9 6.5 2.7
Country 6.2 3.9 8.8 6.3 6.2
Hot Adult Contemporary (AC) 26.3 3.6 5.3 6.7 4.2
Mexican Regional -3.5 -3.5 -5.2 2.7 Flat
News/Talk -5.1 -5.5 -7.8 -6.7 -4.5
Pop Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR) 3.2 8.5 1.9 1.2 -2.9
Rhythmic Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR) Flat 6.9 Flat -8.1 1.9
Spanish Contemporary + Spanish Hot Adult Contemporary (AC) Flat -7.2 -4.9 4 -5.8
Urban Adult Contemporary (AC) 2 -1.4 Flat 2 -1.3
Urban Contemporary Flat Flat Flat Flat 4.7
Source: Nielsen

Summertime spikes are nothing new to the Classic Hits format. If you examine the long-term audience trend by month, it’s clear that summer seasonality is an important factor for the Classic Hits listener. There are noticeable spikes every summer, but the past two years stand out for how consistently and sharply the audience increased from the beginning of the year through the summer.

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