Revenue growth for the U.S. commercial radio industry continues to be concentrated in its digital offerings.
Industry research firm BIA Advisory Services has released its first quarter edition of the 2019 Investing in Radio Market Report. It features important radio industry numbers for 2018.
According to the report, an 8.1% increase year-over-year, to $923 million, in digital ad sales helped offset a trimming of 1.6%, $13.3 billion, in over-the-air sales. This led to a total estimated revenue haul of $14.2 billion for the year.
Bragging rights for the most prolific station once again go to Hubbard Radio’s Washington news station, WTOP(FM). BIA estimates that the station booked $69 million, ahead of KIIS(FM) in L.A. at $61 million. And there was much separation of those two from the rest of the pack.
Familiar faces, though in a slightly different order from 2017, followed: L.A.’s KBIG(FM), $46 million, taking over the #3 slot and New York’s WLTW(FM), $44 million, at #4, with former #3, WHTZ(FM), $42 million, slipping to #5.
Last year’s trailers all finished in the same order: WFAN(FM), $41.5 million, #6; WINS(AM), $40.5 million, #7; WCBS(FM), $40 million, #8; WBBM(AM), $39 million, #9; and KFI(AM), $35 million, #10. WFAN, WINS and WCBS are New York stations while WBBM is in Chicago and KFI is another L.A. station.
The news format dominates this higher echelon of billers. And other than the Hubbard station at number one, the top 10 contains only iHeartMedia and Entercom properties.
BIA SVP and Chief Economist Mark Fratrick said, “Although local radio stations are still important players in their markets and are managing to maintain their position in the top five advertising platforms, we do expect the OTA advertising revenue of U.S. radio stations to decrease this year by 1–2% and through the next few years.”
He believes that overall combined radio revenues will remain relatively flat for at least the next five years, while digital platforms will hit $1 billion by 2020.
On the station transaction side, BIA notes that the year had no particularly large transactions, tallying just under $750 million. The year before, the Entercom-CBS Radio transaction pushed 2017 to a whopping $3.3 billion of transaction value.