The changing seasons have a large impact on our behavior. With the cold weather taking over, we might find ourselves wearing more scarves and boots, eating more hearty foods, and staying indoors more often. In a recent study, Nielsen found through their portable people meter (PPM) ratings that seasonality also affects what we listen to on the radio.

In July 2013, Nielsen identified the "Summer of Country", which saw record-breaking growth from country music. The same time period also saw significant positive trends from Hot Adult Contemporary and Urban Contemporary music, along with a strong presence from Active Rock. Moving into the colder months, Nielsen is seeing less activity around music you can dance outside to and more growth from spoken word outlets. Nielsen highlights three key areas for the fall:

  • Sports Radio Records: After Sports stations came out of the dead of summer (a historically low point for sports programming) with a positive turn-around last month, they recorded significant increases in listener shares again in October. In fact, the format set an all-time high this month for audience shares in PPM markets in both the 6+ (5.1 share) and 25-54 (5.8) demos. Sports also saw its shares grow by double-digit percentages across all three age ranges. Fueled by fall football and the Major League Baseball playoffs, interest in sports on the radio dial has never been higher.
  • News Remains Open: The news arena is also having a big fall, after slumping a bit during the summer, and is now rebounding as vacations end and newsmakers and consumers settle back into more regular work patterns. Last year, Hurricane Sandy and the election season moved the needle on news radio. This year, the lead-up to the two-week government shutdown drove up the shares for News/Talk by 6 percent across all three of the demos we examined in October.
  • Hot Adult Contemporary’s Run of Success: If it seems that Hot Adult Contemporary (Hot AC) has been trending hot for some time, it’s because it has. Through October, Hot AC has achieved the best five-month stretch of 6+ shares (5.7) since we began tracking format trends in PPM markets in 2011; posted the best three-month performance in the 18-34 demo (6.4 share) over that same time period; and garnered the best five-month stretch for 25-54 audience shares (6.3) since these trends began.

In addition to these standout areas, October also saw strong performance from Urban Contemporary music, which could have its largest year ever. Mexican regional music also rebounded in October, currently listed as the #1 choice among Hispanic audiences and ranking sixth among all formats on the national 18-34 ranker. Advertisers should take note of these popular genres for the upcoming chilly months.