P1 Media Group | America’s #1 testing Christmas songs
Media Research
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Is Radio playing America’s favorite Christmas carols? P1 Media Group and Nielsen’s BDS were determined to find out how the most played and most streamed Christmas songs from the 2018 Holiday Season ranked among likely Christmas music radio listeners.

We tested the 40 most-played holiday songs (all US radio airplay) and the 40 most-streamed holiday songs (all US on demand audio streaming providers such as Spotify, Amazon & Apple) from 2018. There were 17 songs on the 40 most-streamed Christmas list that were not on the 40 most-played radio list, for a total of 57 songs.


Key findings:


For the third straight year “Jingle Bell Rock” by Bobby Helms is America’s #1 favorite Christmas song. “Christmas music’s appeal remains as strong as ever among American radio listeners whom listen to All Christmas stations ‘frequently’ or ‘sometimes’ and personally enjoy Christmas music on the radio during the holiday season” says Ken Benson, Partner and co-founder, of P1 Media Group. “As we suspected, radio is underplaying some of the most streamed Christmas songs.  Two songs (Michael Buble & Frank Sinatra) didn’t even make radio’s 40 most-played Christmas songs, yet landed in the Top 10 among this sample of Christmas radio listeners.  Streaming is one of the most valuable resources available in our music meetings today” Haley Jones, Director of Radio, Nielsen BDS Radio

    • Two songs that weren’t among the 40 most-played Christmas songs from 2018 “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Michael Buble and “Jingle Bells” by Frank Sinatra both landed in the Top 10, number 6 and 7 respectively. Michael Buble ranked way down the chart at #666 on the 2018 most-played chart and Sinatra’s “Jingle Bells” ranked #49.
    • The Holiday Classics rule the Top 10 including “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” and two versions of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
    • Three different versions of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas” made the list.
    • The Christmas standards test higher than their contemporary counterparts. 16 of the top 20 testing songs are classics recorded between 1951 and 1970.
    • Two of the newest songs we tested scored exceptionally strong with 18-24’s. Kelly Clarkson’s “Underneath the Tree” from 2013 ranked number 25 with 18-54’s yet ranked #2 with 18-24’s. Ariana Grande’s original “Santa Tell Me” from 2014 ranked number 51 overall and Top 5 with 18-24’s
    • 48 of the 57 Christmas songs tested extremely positively with an appeal score of 70 or higher on a 100-point scale.
    • “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, the most controversial Christmas song of 2018, ranked #27 overall with a total appeal score > 70 in all demos, except 18-24.
    • All-Christmas Music stations have broad appeal among Men and Women 18-54 with 70% of the sample saying they “frequently” listen to Christmas music on a local radio station during the holiday season.




You can also download the full report HERE!


P1 Media Group conducted the online survey the weekend of November 1-3rd, 2019. We sampled 400 18-54-year-old radio listeners, proportional to the population of the Top 50 American Radio Markets. Participants were required to listen either “Frequently” or “Sometimes” to Christmas Music on a local radio station during the holiday season and needed to rate their personal enjoyment of Christmas music on a local radio station during the holiday season a ‘7’ or higher on a 1 to 10 scale. We identified heavy streamers by asking each respondent “How frequently you listen to music on your smartphone, computer or other listening device from a streaming service such as Pandora, Spotify or Apple Music.” Heavy Streamers are those that responded they stream “everyday” or a “few days” a week. 85% of the total sample were designated as Heavy Streamers.


The test list was compiled from the most-played Christmas Songs on American radio and the most-streamed Christmas songs in America in 2018 according to Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems.


Contact: Ken Benson

Phone: +1.360.910.4119

Email: ken@p1mediagroup.com