It was the best Christmas ever for a handful of heritage ACs.
Suggesting that listener appetites for holiday cheer were bigger this past holiday season after a year dominated by the pandemic, ACs in Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Houston skated to their highest 6+ shares in station history in Nielsen’s Holiday 2020 PPM ratings survey, which covers the period from Dec. 3, 2020 -Jan. 6, 2021.
Tracking November-December-Holiday survey periods, iHeartMedia AC KOST Los Angeles trended 4.9-10.7-13.9, beating its previous all-time high of 13.7 set in Holiday 2019.
All shares quoted are Persons 6+, Mon-Sun 6am-Mid.
It’s a similar story in Chicago where AC sister WLIT went 4.6-9.5-14.3, topping its previous high watermark of 13.9 set in Holiday 2015.
“I sense that Christmas music will be an even bigger escape this year compared to years past,” Bonneville San Francisco Director of Programming Brian Figula told Inside Radio in mid-December. That turned out to be right on target as Bonneville’s San Fran AC KOIT ramped up 4.4-6.3-11.3, besting the previous all-time station high of 10.7 achieved in both the Holiday 2018 and 2019 surveys.
And in Dallas, iHeartMedia AC KDGE (3.5-5.7-10.3) also ascended to a new station high, narrowly eclipsing the 10.3 it had in Holiday 2019.
But just as many all-Christmas stations weren’t able to match or beat previous Santa-stoked ratings highs. In New York, iHeartMedia AC WLTW (5.7-8.7-12.8) fell short of the 13.3 it notched in 2016 and 2019.
In Philadelphia, Entercom AC WBEB (4.8-7.2-13.2) got nowhere near the meteoric 18.6 it had in Holiday 2019.
In Houston, iHeartMedia AC KODA (7.0-7.6-12.1) missed its Holiday 2017 high watermark of 12.5.
And in Atlanta Salem Media Group contemporary Christian WFSH-FM (4.2-4.5-5.6) missed the 8.6 it achieved in the Holiday 2018 book.
Apart from Atlanta, the Christmas format topped the market in New York, L.A., Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston and Philadelphia. In Dallas it captured the two top spots with Salem Media’s contemporary Christian KLTY coming in second (6.4-6.7-7.0).
And there was no shortage of sleigh bells ringing across the FM dial in December. A record-breaking 540 stations had flipped to all-Christmas as of Dec. 15, shattering the previous record of 529 set in 2014, according to the Inside Radio/Precision Trak database.
“We all need a respite from the extremely difficult year, and Christmas music provides that,” said Cat Thomas, Brand and Content Director at Hubbard AC “Warm 106.9” KRWM Seattle. “It’s happy, it’s fun, and it warms your heart.”