Yeah, yeah, Christmas music. It's already started. WSMM in South Bend flipped the switch last week (thanks, guys), and before you know it, Brenda Lee, Bing Crosby, and Elmo & Patsy will be all over the radio in every market in the U.S.
For many Rock-formatted stations, this is not the most wonderful time of the year. In fact, it tends to suck. That’s because of all the formats victimized by Christmas music stations, Rock and Classic Rock tend to be the hardest hit. Yes, those often benign AC stations turn into fire breathing reindeer during the last month or two of the year. And the damage can destabilize much of the progress your station has made throughout the year.
You can see this in the Arbitron numbers – intensified in PPM markets – and also in our own data from last year’s Technology Survey VI.
In their recent client conference call, Arbitron shared the cheery news with attendees.
That’s right, while you’re out shopping for the holidays, setting up your winter vacation, and putting together the holiday DJ vacation schedule, that AC station down the dial is doubling its ratings during that all important end of the year period. Now maybe that station is in your cluster so the pain is a bit less. But the bottom line is that in the world of metered measurement, these stations tend to perform even more robustly than they did with paper diaries.
Our web study of more than 26,000 rockers across 78 stations showed the collateral damage that Christmas music produces.
The red brackets tell the story. Last year, these respondents, nearly a quarter of them, tell us they switched to a holiday music station at least half the time in December. For one in ten, Christmas music was most, if not all, of their radio diet. For Classic Rockers, these numbers are even higher.
So a couple of things come to mind…
Because once Black Friday hits, you can see the tsunami coming.
And then there’s your December strategy. If there was a viable “antidote,” you’d have known about it by now. But if you have that great idea – the big charity promotion, your version of “Christmas Wish,” the “X Days of Christmas,” or that shopping spree in the mall – pull out the stops, do something big and bold, and push back with all your great brand’s might. There are some Rock stations that have avoided the deluge, but they are few and far between.
You’re not going to beat the Christmas music station at what they’ve become famous for – wall-to-wall tinsel and that mistletoe vibe – but seeing the numerical reality you’re facing, there’s never been a better time to try something new, different, and hopefully, compelling.
Or just book a great getaway, and get ready to fight the good fight in January.