Results released Wednesday, Feb. 23, show consolidated revenues for iHeartMedia were $1.062 billion in the fourth quarter of 2021, a year-over-year climb of about 14%, according to the company’s filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Chairman/CEO Bob Pittman called it “another strong quarter and … a very strong year” and said the numbers reflect the “continuing digital transformation of iHeartMedia into a data-led digital business with important new platforms like podcasting built on the unparalleled scale and audience reach of our broadcast radio assets.”
He expects continued growth in 2022.
Of the company’s three reportable segments, the multiplatform group, which includes its 850 radio stations, reported revenue growth of 9% in the final quarter of 2021 compared to the previous year. The segment, which also includes it network operations and live events, had $726.3 million in revenue in Q4 2021.
Pittman called the multiplatform group “a growth engine for the company” as the company continues to climb back to revenue totals established prior to the onset of the COVID pandemic. For comparison, iHeartMedia said its multiplatform group had revenue of nearly $849 million in Q4 of 2019 pre-pandemic compared to $726,292 in Q4 last year, a decline of 14.4% over the two-year span.
iHeartMedia’s eye-popping podcast revenue growth continued in its Q4, according to the latest financial report. The digital audio group in the quarter grew revenue to $273.2 million, which was up by nearly 59% in Q4 compared YoY. Within that group podcast revenue was up 130% to $97 million in the final quarter of 2021.
“This company doesn’t have an audience issue. What we have is a monetization issue, and that is where we are focusing our efforts,” Pittman added.
Digital revenue growth continues to outpace that of iHeartMedia’s other groups, Pittman said on the earnings call. “In Q4 2021, digital revenue represented 26% of total company revenue compared to Q1 of 2019 when it represented under 10%. Clear evidence of our continued digital transformation,” he said.
The company recently announced it will use synthetic voice technology to extend its podcasting segment. iHeartMedia will use Veritone’s voice-cloning tool to convert English-language podcast series into multiple languages, dialects and accents for distribution across the iHeartPodcast Network. The company also recently announced an investment in the Sounders audio intelligence platform, which the company is using to match potential advertisers with podcast audiences.
Its Audio and Media Services Group, which includes which includes Katz Media Group and RCS, reported $65.5 million in revenue in the final quarter, a substantial drop from last quarter of 2020 when the segment recorded about $100 million in revenue. However, Rich Bressler, iHeartMedia president, COO and CFO, said that the dip was partly attributable to lower political ad spending.
For the year ending Dec. 31, 2021, the company totaled $3.5 billion in consolidated revenue, up 21% YoY compared to $2.9 billion in 2020. The multiplatform group revenue grew by 13% YoY to nearly $2.5 billion in 2021.
iHeartMedia’s capital expenditures for the year were $183.4 million compared to just $85.2 million in 2020. The company says its capital expenditures increased primarily due to its real estate consolidation initiatives aimed at reducing its structural cost base.
Bressler said iHeartMedia expects to have cap ex spending of between $150 million and $165 million in 2022.
iHeartMedia’s operating cash flow nearly doubled in Q4 2021 to $134 million, which it credited to consolidating real estate assets in certain markets. Cash on hand at the end of the quarter was $352.1 million. The broadcaster’s balance sheet listed $5.73 billion in total debt and $5.38 billion of net debt as of Dec. 31, 2021.