Santa Claus may be coming to town on local radio a little too early for some local listeners, but it is music to the ears of local stations 96.1 FM (WJYE) and Star 102.5 FM (WTSS).
That’s because “Jingle Bells” clearly helps jingle the stations’ bottom lines during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season.
Inquiring minds wanted to know if there was any evidence that the early holiday music helps the stations.
I know I’m not the only one who heads for the new alternative format at 107.7 FM or some other station as soon as I hear the lyrics of “Frosty the Snow Man,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” or some other Christmas or holiday classic.
I also know that my musical taste is not everyone’s taste and not everyone is protesting.
So here’s the latest evidence from last fall’s Arbitron ratings book, which covered October, November and the first week of December.
Star 102.5 averaged a 4.4 share for listeners 12 and older in October, rose about 25 percent to a 5.6 in November, when the holiday music was in full swing, and added another 10 percent or so to a 6.1 in early December.
WJYE averaged a 3.8 share in October and rose almost 50 percent to a 5.6 in November and added another 10 percent or so to a 6.1 in early December, just as Star 102.5 did.
So the evidence is clear that playing holiday music works.
In addition, the stations start playing it early because the final December weeks before Christmas aren’t included in the fall book, so it pays to get an early start.
Star 102.5 ranked No. 8 and WJYE No. 9 with listeners 12 and over in Western New York with those figures. However, holiday music is seeking women listeners and holiday shoppers more than it’s seeking listeners just 12 and older.
The higher shares in November and December most likely translate into higher advertising revenue, which is why the stations have been playing holiday music early for several years.
In case you wondered, WYRK was No. 1 in the fall 2012 book, followed by WBEN, WBLK, 97 Rock, WKSE, WHTT, WGR, Star 102.5, WJYE and 103.3 The Edge.
Where are local news viewers going from 5 to 6 p.m.?
That’s the question, after looking at ratings for the first week of the November sweeps.
Local television news experienced a big ratings drop during those time periods compared with a year ago.
At 5 and 5:30 p.m, the combined ratings for Channels 2, 4 and 7 were down 20 percent from the average for the entire sweeps a year ago and more than that, compared with the first week of the November 2012 sweeps.
Of course, November 2012 was a very busy news month, with Western New York dealing with nasty weather for one night associated with Hurricane Sandy, the nation re-electing President Obama and Republican Chris Collins winning a congressional seat over Democrat Kathy Hochul.
The 2012 sweep also started a week earlier in late October.
The biggest loser in the first week of this November’s sweeps was last November’s biggest winner – first-place Channel 2. It is in a much closer battle with Channel 4.
Channel 2 averaged an 8.6 at 5 p.m. for the first week of this November’s sweeps, down from a 10.7 a year ago for the entire sweep and down from a 13.0 for the first week of the November 2012 sweep that included a big number for the weather story.
Second-place Channel 4 averaged a 7.1 at 5 p.m., slipping a rating point from the entire sweep a year ago and 1.7 points from the first week of the November 2012 sweep. For the first week of the November 2013 sweep, Channel 4 closed the gap with Channel 2 to 1.5 points from 2.6 points a year ago.
Third-place Channel 7 lost about a third of its audience at 5 p.m. compared with the entire November 2012 sweep, and it only averaged a 2.4 rating for the half-hour for this last year’s first week, down from a 3.7 a year ago.
At 5:30 p.m., first-place Channel 2 averaged an 8.1 rating for the first week of this year’s sweeps, down from 10.5 from the entire November 2012 sweep.
Second-place Channel 4 averaged a 7.2, down from an 8.6 for the first week of the November 2012 and from an 8.4 for the entire sweep.
Third-place Channel 7 averaged a 3.6, down from a 4.4 from its average for the entire November 2012 sweeps.
Once again, Channel 4 closed the ratings gap at 5:30 p.m. significantly from a year ago. It is within a point of Channel 2 for the first week of this November’s sweeps after trailing by more than two points a year ago for the entire sweep.
The early evening news results for the first week probably should concern the local stations, which get about 40 percent of their revenue from local news and local programming.
Local TV news appears to need a big news story – perhaps from the weather gods – to get close to its audience levels of last year’s November sweeps.
While we’re talking ratings, the Buffalo Bills’ 23-10 loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday had a 36.1 rating on Channel 4, making it the third-highest-rated Bills game of the season behind a loss to the New York Jets (39.7) and a win over Miami (36.7).
Imagine how high it would have been if the game had been more competitive.
Inquiring minds also want to know: What happened to Ken Brown’s weekly gardening hour show on WBEN?
Tim Wenger, the operations manager for WBEN and all Entercom stations, said Brown resigned after deciding it was getting to be too much work. “Home Improvement” is filling his Saturday time slot for now.