Format Report Card: Classic Hits, Urban Contemporary And Adult Hits Are Growing.


Which radio formats have shown share growth in persons 6+ from January to July 2022, year-over-year July 2021 to July 2022, and from year-to-date 2020 and/or 2021 to the first seven months of 2022?


If you said classic hits, urban contemporary or adult hits, you're right on the mark. And that's not including nine other formats with positive growth stories to tell from Inside Radio's analysis of Nielsen's PPM cross-market average quarter-hour share data for Monday-Sunday 6am-midnight, including averaging each format's monthly AQH shares to compute January-July delivery in 2020, 2021 and 2022.


Looking at 6+ shares over the three January-to-July periods from 2020 to 2022, classic hits, adult hits, urban adult contemporary and sports are the only four formats showing steady growth year-to-year, with sports having gained the most, up 0.8 from January-July 2020. Also up from January-July 2020 are adult contemporary, contemporary Christian, and rhythmic-AC, with urban contemporary up from January-July 2021.


News/talk and AC continue to rank first and second overall, each having its own upward movement story to tell. While news/talk's January-to-July year-over-year share is down, with monthly shares also down from the beginning of 2022, the format had a better July this year than last, up 0.3, not to mention up 0.2 from June – likely driven by a busy news cycle including the January 6 hearings, Roe v. Wade overturning and the Uvalde shooting aftermath. Like news/talk, AC is also up 0.3 from July 2021, although it did see January-to-July year-over-year share growth.


While country, ranked third overall, shows a gradual share downtrend from 2020 to 2022, the format has looked as if it's on its way back so far in 2022, with persons 6+ up 0.7 from January to July. The most impressive gainer from the first of the year to July is classic rock, up 0.9. Also uptrending from January to July are classic hits, adult hits, urban contemporary and modern/alternative rock – the latter powered by two of the year's most-streamed songs, Glass Animals' “Heat Waves” and the return of Kate Bush's “Running Up That Hill.”


Aside from news/talk and AC, other formats up July-to-July are classic hits, adult hits, classic rock, rhythmic-AC and urban contemporary, the latter making an impressive 0.6 share gain.


Setting aside formats showing negligible share gains or losses (as in 0.1 in either direction), two stand out for their steady downtrending: CHR, gradually losing share since 2020, off 0.6 to a still-respectable seventh-ranked 5.0 6+ for 2022 to date; and rhythmic-CHR, down 0.4 since 2020, although shares are basically flat for the year. For the remainder of 2022, hit-based stations have their work cut out for them.

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