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A Revenue Increase at Last?

BIA/Kelsey projects a ‘slight’ bump this year, then 2–4% annually over coming years

U.S. radio revenue fell 18% in 2009, according to BIA/Kelsey. But the outlook, at last, is at least a tad better. The research and consulting company predicts industry revenue will increase 1.5% this year and grow 2% to 4% over the next several years.

It released its quarterly “Investing in Radio Market Report” and estimated that overall radio revenue was $13.7 billion in 2009, including broadcast and online sources, a drop of -18.4%. That’s consistent with recent trend numbers from the Radio Advertising Bureau (though the RAB puts the industry’s overall revenue higher at $16 billion).

“While the poor economy held it down momentarily, radio is coming back to demonstrate that it is an important advertising vehicle, particularly in local media markets,” stated VP Mark R. Fratrik in the announcement.

He said the industry will continue to grow its online revenues “as increasingly more progressive radio groups recognize they are more than just over-the-air transmitters and begin to integrate cross-platform promotions with their broadcast and web operations.”

The pace of station transactions also was slow, the company reported, at $400 million in total value of stations sold, but should pick up “as operators will be attempting to get additional properties that offer efficiencies of scale to their operations.”

Fratrik said the lack of debt financing has kept transactions down but he looks for a “modest rebound” in the second half of this year.