Radio Results Blog

Bah Humbug?? Listeners Love Christmas Radio

Posted by Larry Julius on Sat, Nov 24, 2012 @ 08:44 AM

Christmas Music On Radio Portland Maine copyThis week, a retail clerk in Portsmouth, NH filed a noise-complaint about a Salvation Army Santa Claus ringing his bell.  “This is my fourth year and I can’t take it anymore. I’m so sick of it,” the clerk told Seacoast Online. "Forty hours per week, five weeks per year is enough to make anyone go research city noise ordinances."

I have no doubt, this is also how many people feel about radio stations that play all Christmas Music.  But I am not one of those people.

I start dreaming of a white Christmas a few days after Hallowe'en.  For me, it can never be too soon to deck the halls. And when it comes to Christmas music on the radio, it's never too early to begin the reindeer games. Research shows: I am not alone.

Christmas Music Can Double A Station's Audience

Arbitron, the radio ratings company, studied listening levels of 33 radio stations that switch to all Christmas music.  The study compared the number of listeners attracted by each station during the holiday period to the number that listened during non-holiday periods. All data was collected using Arbitron's Portable People Meter (PPM) technology.  Here is what the study revealed:

  • On average, Christmas music stations had a 91% increase in their listenership...almost double their non-holiday audience
  • Listening levels to Christmas music stations increase significantly after Thanksgiving and peaks on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Holiday Music Radio Stations Portland Maine resized 600
  • On average, 19.2% of all Adults 25-54 tune-in to Christmas music stations on Christmas Eve through Christmas Day

What Happens When The Jingle Bells End?

Besides bringing good cheer to listeners, the temporary change to all Christmas music can have a positive effect on station listening long-term.  Greg Strassell, Senior VP of Programming at CBS radio told the Hollywood Reporter, "Nine times out of 10, many new listeners pour in, outweighing the listeners that do opt out." Strassell adds that once in a while a station might see a 20 percent post-Christmas ratings boost that lasts through the winter.

Concurring with Strassell, Darren Davis, Executive Vice President of National Programming at Clear Channel, told The Hollywood Reporter, "Playing Christmas music is all about having a larger audience after Christmas than you did before. People who find the station often stick around after the holidays and discover a new favorite station."

If you belong to the holiday music resistance: don't bother filing a noise complaint. It will be thrown out like the one in Portsmouth.  But there is good news: As of today, there are only 31 days left until the holiday music ends.  The bad news: it all starts again in about 360 days or fewer...not soon enough for me.

The Christmas Music Top 10

So, what are the most popular songs being played on Christmas music stations?  Billboard Magazine published the Hot 100 Holiday songs.  Here are the top 10:

  1. All I Want For Christmas is You by Mariah Carey
  2. Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee
  3. Christmas Eve/Sarajevo by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
  4. Jingle Bell Rock by Bobby Helms
  5. Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano
  6. Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives
  7. The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole
  8. White Christmas by Bing Crosby
  9. Last Christmas by Wham!
  10. It's The Most Wonderful Time of The Year by Andy Williams


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Tags: Effective Radio Advertising, research