What Were 2016’s Most Popular Radio Formats?

January 4, 2017

This article is included in these additional categories:

Radio | Youth & Gen X

Radio continues to have wide reach in the US, and proves more appealing to middle-aged Americans than any other medium, according to a new MarketingCharts study. Likewise, radio advertising continues to show slow growth, even as other traditional media see declines. So what radio formats proved most popular with Americans in 2016? Nielsen provides some answers.

Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise given that 2016 was an election year, but News/Talk radio emerged as the top format last year, per Nielsen’s figures. From January-November, 9.6% of US radio listeners in PPM markets aged 6 and older were tuned to a News/Talk station during any 15-minute period during the day. That 9.6% share represented strong growth from 8.9% in 2015, in fact being the largest increase of the top 10 radio formats.

Next on the list was Pop Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR), at 8.1% share, followed by Adult Contemporary (7.5%), Country (7.4%) and Hot Adult Contemporary (6.4%).

The top formats differed for the 18-34 and 25-54 age groups, however. Pop Contemporary Hit Radio and Country were the top-2 formats for each of these brackets, with News/Talk 10th among 18-34-year-olds and 5th among 25-54-year-olds. Pop Contemporary Hit Radio proved especially popular with 18-34-year-olds, with an impressive 12.2% share.

Compared to the overall 6+ share, 18-34-year-olds also displayed a greater preference for Urban Contemporary (their #4 format), Rhythmic Contemporary Hit Radio (#6), Mexican Regional and Alternative (tied at #7).

The 25-54 bracket, for its part, was slightly more tuned in to Classic Rock and All Sports formats than the overall audience.

The full results can be found by enlarging the chart above, while more details on the demographic composition of terrestrial radio’s audience are available in MarketingCharts’ 3rd Annual US Media Audience Demographics report.

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