Study: The Difference Between Top 40 and Hot AC?
March 2, 2017

As Hot AC has become more and more current-hits-driven, the line between it and the Top 40 format has become less and less clear, with some folks wondering just what exactly the difference is – other than teens. Where is the line now? According to data to be released today from the Burns/Strategic Solutions Research “What Women Want” study, it’s still rhythmic music tastes, which are significantly higher among Top 40 listeners.

“The top two music styles with both formats is the same – Current Pop and Pop-Adult,” says Burns Associates Pres/CEO Alan Burns. “But rhythmic music tastes fall significantly, ranking at the bottom among Hot AC P1s. They’re less than half as likely (27%, to Top 40 P1s’ 65%) as Top 40 fans to say they love the sound of Pop Rhythmic songs like 5th Harmony’s ‘Work from Home’, Flo Rida’s ‘My House’, or Weeknd’s ‘Can’t Feel My Face’."

Also, while the two formats’ demos overlap in adult women, the ages at which their core listenership peaks are widely separated. Strategic EVP Hal Rood noted that, “In the study, Top 40’s highest P1 cell was women 20-24, while Hot AC’s listenership peaked between 35 and 39. Each format has a very strong base with fairly clear lines of demarcation.”

Burns and Strategic will focus on Top 40 and Hot AC in free webinar from the “What Women Want-2017” series. The data from the study of 2000 women who cume Top 40 or AC will include music preferences, listeners’ top artists, their most-desired content in morning drive, propensity to cooperate with rating services, and what drives greater TSL in the two formats. You can register for the 2pm Eastern/11am Pacific webinar by clicking What Women Want 2017 Webinar or the What Women Want icons at or

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Nikki Nite,
VP of Prog. & Ops,

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