A holiday season coup by stations that programmed Christmas music ended in ratings casualties at some of L.A.’s most popular stations – though a return to normalcy is expected soon enough.

Take KFI-AM (640), which slid from its second-place perch and 5.3 percent share of L.A. listeners 6 years and older in November, according to ratings from Arbitron Inc., to a fifth place, 3.7 percent share during the holiday ratings period ended earlier this month.

The holiday book was topped by KOST-FM (103.5), which doubled its audience when it switched to an all-Christmas music play list during the holiday period.

“Radio listening is a zero-sum game,” said Dave Van Dyke, general manager at radio services company Radiate Media Inc. in Los Angeles. “You can’t have KOST doubling their audience without it affecting listenership elsewhere. KFI and other stations that tend to have large cumulative audiences tend to be targets for these types of (holiday) formats.”

KOST led the book with a 10 percent share of listeners. KTWV-FM (94.7), which also programmed Christmas music, climbed to fourth place with a 4 percent share.

All-talk KFI, owned by Clear Channel Communications Inc. of San Antonio, recorded the largest drop in listenership, but it wasn’t alone. KBIG-FM (104.3), KPWR-FM (105.9) and KRTH-FM (101.1) all recorded slight dips in the most recent ratings compared with two months prior – but they were all still in the top 10 for the holiday period.

Van Dyke said the stations likely won’t see a major drop in ad sales, since ad buyers often view the holiday period as an aberration. What’s more, the ratings are most important for national buyers, which comprise less than one-quarter of ad sales for L.A. stations. Local buyers tend to focus on the effectiveness of spots rather than just how many people hear them.

Van Dyke expects the ratings order will realign next month because KOST and KTWV pulled the plug on their Christmas music Dec. 26. Talk stations such as KFI will often get bumps in listenership during election seasons, and ought to see increased listenership during the run-up to the L.A. mayoral primary in March.

One potential hiccup for KFI could come from Clear Channel’s effort to simulcast an hour of its evening drive show, “John and Ken,” on a Clear Channel station in New York. The move could turn off some listeners looking for L.A.-specific election coverage.

“John and Ken have proven that they can move the needle and get listeners,” Van Dyke said. “(But) it’s going to be interesting to see whether the 6 o’clock hour is going to change.”

3-D Block

When Culver City 3-D TV channel 3Net launched its in-house studio a few months ago, the idea was to make more 3-D content to license to other channels and to fill out its own lineup. Now the push for more programming is bearing fruit.

The channel – a joint venture of Sony Corp., Discovery Communications Inc. and Imax Corp. – announced a deal last week to distribute to the country’s largest cable provider.

Starting Jan. 28, Comcast Corp.’s Xfinity 3D channel will air a three-hour programming block from 3Net that will be rebroadcast multiple times a week.

The first set will include “Storm Surfers,” which follows surfers as they chase massive swells, as well as “Nascar: The Imax Experience.”

Tom Cosgrove, 3Net’s chief executive, said the deal shows 3Net is meeting increased demand for 3-D content.

“Today’s announcement further solidifies our ongoing commitment to meeting the ever-growing consumer appetite for high-quality, original 3-D television content,” he said in a statement.

3Net also distributes content to platforms including Netflix. The 3Net channel is available to DirecTV Inc.’s 19 million household subscribers and is also available to about 100,000 subscribers of Service Electric Cablevision in Pennsylvania. Google Inc. announced it would carry the channel on its Google Fiber broadband service, now available only in Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan.

By creating its own studio, 3-Net intended to boost production in the hopes that pay TV providers in the United States and, especially, overseas would soon look to program more such content. But questions remain as to how widely the TV sets, which often sell at a premium to conventional sets, will find their way into households and whether consumers will be willing to don 3-D glasses in their living rooms.

Comings and Goings

Global Eagle Acquisition Corp. named John LaValle chief executive. He was previously chief executive at Westlake Village in-flight entertainment company Row 44, which was purchased by Global Eagle in a deal that closed last week. … Tom Hassell has been named vice president of theatrical distribution at Woodland Hills’ Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp. Hassell previously worked at Sony’s Columbia Pictures, New Market Films and Film District.

Staff reporter Jonathan Polakoff can be reached at jpolakoff@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 549-5225, ext. 226.

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