With 12 months of ratings in the books, the past year and December's trends tell strong stories for Adult Contemporary and News/Talk, while formats such as Adult R&B and Contemporary Christian show higher full-year shares in 2021, compared to 2019 or 2020. Powered by the annual switch to all Christmas music, AC had its best December on record, leading all formats in December 2021 with an 11.6 share of persons 6+, according to Nielsen. That’s a gain of two full share points over December 2020, and more than a full share ahead of the format’s previous December record of 10.5 set in 2017 and repeated in 2018.AC also leads News/Talk's 10.4 December 2021 share. The last time AC led all stations, excluding Nielsen's special Holiday books, was 2019 when it was up on News/Talk by just three-tenths of a share point. Following 2020's Presidential election, News/Talk led AC by 2.6 share points that December. The new numbers are based on Inside Radio's analysis of Nielsen PPM cross-market average quarter-hour share data for Monday-Sunday 6am-midnight.
Clearly benefiting from this year's earlier-than-usual flips to holiday music, AC keeps its December 2021 lead, with double-digit shares, in the 18-34 and 25-54 demos as well, well ahead of CHR in the former and News/Talk in the latter. Compared to December 2020, AC is one of seven formats showing year-over-year 6+ share gains – the others are Classic Hits, Adult R&B, Hot AC, Sports, Hip-Hop/R&B and Contemporary Christian – while AC and Hip-Hop/R&B are up from November.
Based on an average AQH share computed for the 12 books of 2019, 2020 and 2021 for each format (Jan.-Dec., excluding the Holiday survey), News/Talk again leads them all in 2021 with an 11.1 share 6+, with AC second at 8.0 and Country third with a 6.1. For News/Talk that's just two-tenths of a point off from its 2020 delivery, while AC improves on its 2020 showing by three-tenths of a point.
Five formats' 2021 share topped that of 2019 or 2020: Adult R&B (4.7 for 2019, 4.8 for 2020, 5.1 for 2021), Contemporary Christian (2.5-2.4-3.0), Spanish Contemporary (2.7-2.8-2.9), Adult Hits (2.2-2.3-2.4) and Spanish Adult Hits (1.3-1.3-1.4). Four additional formats show higher shares than in 2020, but not 2019: AC (8.2-7.7-8.0), Classic Hits (5.8-5.5-5.6), Hot AC (5.0-4.4-4.5) and Sports (4.3-3.4-4.0). News/Talk, while down from 2020, remains significantly ahead of its 2019 share 6+ (9.5-11.3-11.1).