Think Christmas music isn’t cool? Don’t tell that to millennials.
Music aficionados aged between 18 to 34 now account for a whopping 36 percent of holiday music fans — a chunk that’s more than 40 percent larger than the corresponding pool of Christmas-jingling baby boomers, according to a study by Nielsen.
“Boomers & Beyond,” which is how Nielsen describes the 55-plus crowd, make up only 25 percent of the holiday fan base. That even trails the 31 percent who are Gen Xers aged 35 to 54.
The emergence of millennials as the generation most enamored with Christmas jingles is all the more remarkable given that eight of the top 10 holiday songs played on the radio during Christmas season last year were released between 1944 (Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”) and 1970 (Jose Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad”).
The list’s only two “modern” artists were Mariah Carey (1994’s “All I Want for Christmas”) and Trans-Siberian Orchestra (1995’s “Christmas Eve Sarajevo”).
“This debunks a myth even for me,” David Bakula, Nielsen’s senior VP of Industry Insights, told The Post. “I thought that, because so much of Christmas music is rooted in classics from the ‘50s and ‘60s, boomers would be the biggest fans.”
Jon Miller, Nielsen’s VP of Audience Insights, described ratings spikes driven by holiday radio programming as a “ramp that keeps rising from Thanksgiving through Christmas Day.”
Multiyear studies show adult-contemporary stations that flip to holiday music usually see about a 90 percent ratings increase during workday hours, which rises to nearly 130 percent in the evening. Then, on Christmas Eve, the ratings shoot up nearly 600 percent, Miller said.
He expects the appetite to get even bigger now that millennials have emerged as the genre’s biggest fans.
“I’m seeing more appetite for holiday songs every year,” he added.
To satisfy the need not only of millennials but all Americans to hear Christmas classics, more than 500 US radio stations “flip” their formats every year to holiday music.
The switch generally occurs between Thanksgiving and the New Year — although Beasley Media Group offers an endless loop of holiday audio through Boston’s Magic 106.7 and an online “side channel.”
The station, which first tried the holiday format in 2005, has advertisers well-trained.
“They start locking up [ad] inventory way in advance, because they know our audience will double or triple in November and December,” said Justin Chase, Beasley’s executive VP of programming.
While Magic 106.7 metaphorically owns Boston for holiday music — just as iHeartRadio’s WLTW rules New York City — the Christmas format can accommodate more than one station per market.
WLTW put Christmas music into heavy rotation after 9/11, sensing listeners would appreciate a “feel-good” format.
It gradually stepped up its yuletide spins so that, in 2005, it became the first New York station to go all-holiday on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
Three Christmases later, according to Arbitron ratings, WLTW’s seasonal fare had captured a third of the area’s radio listeners.[“Source-nypost”]