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The Top Music Radio Storylines of 2018: Mid-Year Edition

Nielsen says adult contemporary is ascendant

It’s hard to believe that 2018 is almost half spent. But as we approach the Summer Solstice, Nielsen’s May portable people meter PPM readings give us some insights not only on the first five months of this year, but also a comparison of the same time frame in previous years. By stepping back to examine the long view of music radio consumption, some interesting storylines emerge from the data.

[Read: Survey Says Adult Contemporary, Classic Hits Formats on the Rise]

The big news, according to Nielsen, is the continuing rise of adult contemporary, which has been on an upswing since 2015. Whenever one party gains, someone else usually loses. In this case, the other parties contending for the mass appeal audience aren’t doing so well, Nielsen says. Among them, hot adult contemporary, which peaked in 2015, but has been declining ever since. According to Nielsen’s PPM, Pop CHR has also been on a downward spiral, and currently it has its smallest share of audience since the beginning of PPM measurement in 2011.

When you eliminate the top 50 markets and look at the nation as a whole, Nielsen says country is the top format to watch. It has had its ups and downs, but has stabilized in 2018 and become the second-highest ranked music format.

The latest Nielsen numbers are also good news for alternative. It’s the second-highest-ranked rock format in America, right behind classic rock. Alternative is more about showcasing the new, popular rock music of today, while simultaneously relying on acts from the 1990s and 2000s for its core library. Simply put, popular music influences alternative. Nielsen adds that while pop CHR is declining, alternative’s share of audience among 25-to-54 year-old listeners has been at an all-time high since February.

Looking ahead, we can anticipate Nielsen’s take on Christmas holiday listening habits, where last year, adult contemporary took an even bigger lead in the holiday ratings. And don’t forget, there’s only 190 shopping days left until Christmas.

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