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iHeartMedia Q1 Revenue Down 1.5%

The company expects political revenue to bolster rest of 2024

iHeartMedia executives say its pace of business continues to improve, but the company reported a net loss of $18.5 million in its first quarter. Its consolidated revenue for the first three months of the year was $799 million, a year-over-year decline of 1.5%.

Its radio station segment reported a 7% drop in revenue in Q1 vs. the same period the year prior. The company operates 860 stations and the Premiere Radio Network.

Its Multiplatform Group revenue totaled $493 million in the quarter. The Digital Audio Group generated $239 million in revenue, an increase of 7% compared to the prior year and representing 30% of the company’s total revenue, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Podcast revenue climbed 18% to about $91 million in the quarter.

“Although the marketplace continues to be dynamic, we continue to see meaningful opportunities for growth in our businesses and we remain confident in 2024 as a recovery year,” Chairman/CEO Bob Pittman said in prepared remarks.

Podcasting remains a growth engine, Pittman said on an earnings call Thursday. He gave a nod to “the power of the company’s broadcast radio assets” for helping to grow that podcast business. The company included this chart in its presentation slides:

Slide showing iHeart atop a ranking of podcast publishers, using Podtrac data

The company’s Audio and Media Services group, which includes Katz Media Group and RCS, posted $69.2 million in revenue in Q1 compared to $61 million in the same quarter in 2023. That’s an increase of about 13%.

Capital expenditures for the three months were $21.6 million compared to $39.2 million a year ago. They decreased primarily due to lower spending on real estate optimization initiatives so far in 2024, the company says. iHeart expects cap-ex for the full year to total approximately $100 million.

The company received $101 million of cash proceeds from selling its equity stake in BMI in February 2024, according to its SEC filing.

iHeart had $361 million of cash on hand at the end of March. It reported $5.2 billion of debt and assets of $6.75 billion. The company said it has no debt maturities until May of 2026.

The company is counting on a boost from political revenue to help its second half of 2024. Early indications are positive, according to its financials, with pacing up 16% for the full year in political revenue compared to 2020, the last presidential election cycle.

“We continue to see signs of improvement throughout both our businesses and the broader advertising marketplace, and we still expect 2024 to be a significant growth year,” said Rich Bressler, the company’s president, COO and CFO. He expects Q2 revenue to be flat year-over-year.