Christmas Music: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

But Fall ’05 Numbers Are Flat Vs. Fall ’04
“Christmas Music” continues to be a powerful force in American radio. Among the 119 continuously measured FM radio stations in the top 100 markets that went with all Christmas music during the 2005 holiday season, on average they gained 10% in both 12+ share and 25-54 share over the remainder of 2005. Among the target demographic of many of these stations, Women 25-54, the average gain was also 10%.
While going to an all-Christmas format continues to deliver a significant boost to AC, Christian, and Oldies formats, the year-to-year boost for all-holiday stations in the fall 2005 book vs. 2004 was essentially flat, with slight losses in some key demos. These findings lead Edison Media Research’s just-released study, “Christmas Music: The Gift That Keeps On Giving.” The study will be available on the Edison Media Research website,, on April 26, at 10:00 am EST.
The study also found that stations’ gains come largely through an influx of new listeners each fall. Among Christmas stations, on average cumulative audience rose 8%. By comparison, on average time spent listening only increased 1.6%.
The two stations posting the most dramatic share-point gains 12+ were WTSS Buffalo and KRVE in Baton Rouge, which each rose 2.6 share points. These represent 53% and 42% 12+ share gains, respectively.
Edison Media Research, which previously has analyzed 12-plus numbers for the fall 2003 and 2004 books, had access to an expanded range of national Arbitron ratings information for the fall 2005 book, allowing it to calculate the national picture for the format’s target demos, 25-54 women and adults, as well as looking at AQH, cume and Time Spent Listening. Edison analyzed numbers for 119 FMs that went to all-Christmas formats in continuous measurement markets among Arbitron’s Top 100 markets.
All-Christmas stations typically capture headlines with spectacular summer-to-fall rises, following what is typically a weak book for many participating AC stations. And the fall 2005 book was no exception, 79% of those stations that went all-Christmas were up (vs. 76% from the previous year). As was the case last fall, the holiday format was good for an extra 0.7 shares 12-plus.
When the fall book was compared to an average of the first three books of 2005, Christmas stations saw a 0.5 share (or 10%) boost over their 12-plus and 25-54 average and a 0.8 share (10%) gain in women 25-54.
But comparing shares between fall ’04 and ’05, only 43% of all-holiday stations were up year-to-year (vs. 47% the year before). In 25-54 women, 48% of stations were up year to year. This does imply that Santa Claus is perhaps not being quite as generous as in previous years.
For more information, contact Sean Ross, Edison Media Research, 908-707-4707

1 reply
  1. dan vallie
    dan vallie says:

    Edison is doing a good job researching this issue and I am glad to see you keep doing so.
    I remember when we at Vallie Richards first started suggesting this stategy for stations. it was difficult to convince some stations to do it while others saw it immediately.
    many in the industry thought it was “un-hip” and would stay away from it for that reason, some thought it was a “gimmick” others thought it will be short lived success, others thought they could out program the “Christmas” stations because those stations weren’t “playing the hits”…and I could go on and on.
    but fortunately many saw it and benefitted from it.
    Christmas programming’s success goes much deeper than many understand as its more than just putting on Christmas music, its truly touching people’s hearts in a genuine way and that is something stations don’t do enough off.
    Its a strategy than I am glad sustains from year to year and I am glad that we started recommending it back in the 90s…and hats off to all the early stations that had the guts to take the risk, there is no doubt that it was an un proven strategy at the time and those stations that were most bold were the ones that did it and they were already successful was an even bigger risk for them.
    hats off to edison for staying on top of researching this strategy
    Merry Christmas, makes a happy new year!
    Dan Vallie


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