SEP 13

August’s PPM Format Trends

Tony Hereau

TONY HEREAU  |   Media Insights Manager


Today we welcome back Tony Hereau, Media Insights Manager at Arbitron, for an update on format trends in PPM markets with the August ratings.

With Fall just around the corner, we are analyzing the August PPM ratings as the summer of 2013 is drawing to a close. This year was a big summer for Country music, and after four straight months of record-breaking growth, America’s #1 overall format was steady in August, going from July’s all-time record 8.4 share (for total persons 6+) to an 8.2 in August, the same number it posted in June.

Also making news this month—Hot AC continues its upward trend, Active Rock joins the party, Urban Contemporary finishes a great summer, and spoken word rebounds. Here are the other headlines from this month’s data:

  • Country, Steady: To keep things in perspective for Country this month, August’s 8.2 share (6+) is still tied for the format’s second-highest monthly share since we began tracking this data in early 2011; its 18-34 share (9.7) is the second-highest month ever, and so is its 25-54 number (8.0). Furthermore, the format just finished a remarkable stretch where in four consecutive months, Country grew its PPM shares by an average of 3% a month, each month, in three different demos. Do the math on that, and you’re talking double-digit increases across the board since the Spring.
  • Rocking With Active and Classic: Recently we had been talking about not only Alternative’s run of success with Adults 18-34, but also Classic Rock’s hot streak in both the overall numbers as well as younger demos. In August, Alternative fell back to the tune of around a 6% decrease in 18-34 shares (4.9 this month) while Active Rock shares quietly gained 9%; what’s more, Active Rock also posted a second consecutive month above a 2-share (2.1 in August) with Adults 25-54 for the first time since the Fall of 2011. Meanwhile, Classic Rock continues to anchor the rock beachhead this month by matching July’s all-time record 4.5 share for 6+ and holding steady in both the 18-34 (3.7) and 25-54 (4.9) demos.
  • Hot AC Stays Strong: Mimicking its 2012 results, Hot AC had another good summer this year, posting its third straight 5.7 this month (6+), good for fifth place among all formats nationwide in the PPM markets. What’s more, the format has grown each of the last three months with 18-to 34-year-olds, and in August (6.4), matched its all-time high shares from June and July of last year.

Notables: Lastly, a few notable results that we saw this month:

  • Urban Makes a Statement: Ranking just outside the top five on the national 18-34 ranker, Urban Contemporary (which ranks seventh behind Mexican Regional) has put together a very strong showing this year compared to 2012. The format’s 2013 shares for June, July, and August combined (5.4) are 13% ahead of those months last year (4.8). And, if you go back to the beginning of this year, Urban Contemporary’s 18-34 shares have remained above a 5-share in every month as well as above a 3-share every month for 25-54—this is the longest sustained stretch of results at those levels since we began tracking these numbers three years ago.
  • News/Talk and Sports Bounce Back: August has traditionally been a turnaround month for both News/Talk and Sports. In both 2011 and 2012, each format reversed a downward trend in August and continued to rise through the year as people go back to work, kids go back to school, traffic gets worse, the news cycle picks up, and football season approaches. This year looks to be following the same pattern as News/Talk grew its August shares in all three demos by about a tenth of a point, while Sports numbers jumped 10% on average across each of the age ranges we measure.

August 2013 PPM Markets Top 5 Formats by AQH Share (Full Week Daypart)

Persons 6+ Adults 18-34 Adults 25-54
News/Talk (8.9%) Pop CHR (12.3%) Pop CHR (8.8%)
Pop CHR (8.3%) Country (9.7%) Country (8.0%)
Country (8.2%) Rhythmic CHR (6.9%) AC (7.2%))
AC (7.4%) Hot AC (6.4%) Hot AC (6.3%)
Hot AC (5.7%) AC (6.2%) News/Talk (6.3%)
*Arbitron officially has 48 measured PPM markets, but three of them (Nassau-Suffolk, Middlesex-Somerset-Union, and San Jose) are included inside the larger New York and San Francisco Metros. Therefore, the listening stats from those markets ARE included in our study even though we did not break them out separately.

Tony Hereau is the Media Insights Manager for Arbitron. Reach him at tony.hereau@nielsen.com