Two months into Nielsen's PPM ratings measurements for 2022, noticeable format trends are starting to take shape. The news is good for classic hits and rhythmic AC, not so good for country and classic rock.
Based on Inside Radio's analysis of Nielsen PPM cross-market average quarter-hour share data for Monday-Sunday 6am-midnight, averaging each format's AQH shares for January and February 2021 and 2022, news/talk and adult contemporary remain far-and-away radio's most popular formats among persons 6+. While news/talk is off 1.3 share points from a year ago and down across the board in the persons 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54 demo cells, keep in mind the unusual nature of January 2021's higher-than-normal delivery for the format given the Capitol insurrection and Presidential inauguration, along with another COVID wave. AC, while up slightly from a year ago, posts larger gains among 18-34s and 25-54s.
Year-over-year, six formats are at least three-tenths of a share point ahead of where they were in 2021-to-date: classic hits, adult R&B, all sports, regional Mexican, hip-hop/R&B and rhythmic AC, with classic hits and rhythmic AC the only two with key gains across the board demographically. Classic hits stations led in 11 of the 48 PPM markets with ratings reported by Nielsen for February 2022 and 10 in January. While rhythmic AC, which shows its largest gains among 18-34 (up 0.8) and 18-49 (0.6), is on significantly fewer stations and stands at a 1.3 share for January-February 2022, growth is being driven by several major-market stations such as Comunicacion XERSA's “Magic 92.5” XHRM in San Diego, which posted a 6.7 share 6+ in January.
Aside from news/talk, two other formats – country and classic rock – are off by at least four-tenths of a share point from January-February 2021. For country, the drop is especially noticeable in the 18-34 demo, where it's off 0.8 from a year ago, with a 0.6 decline among 18-49s. While down just 0.2 year-over-year 6+, alternative displays more significant declines in all other measured demos, off by half a share point 18-34 and 25-54 and 0.4 18-49. Classic rock, while off 0.4 and 0.5 among 18-49 and 25-54 respectively, is actually up 0.1 in the 18-34 demo.
While no formats show key share growth 6+ from January to February 2022, hip-hop/R&B and rhythmic CHR are up 0.5 and 0.3 18-34, while classic hits gains 0.3 among 25-54s. Down across the board is all sports, echoing a January-to-February dip seen in prior years given NFL playoff games throughout January.