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iHeartMedia Shows Revenue Growth in Q3

Company has $20.5 billion in debt

The country’s largest radio group tipped the revenue scales with $857.1 million in the third quarter 2016; that’s up 1.2% when you compare it to the same period a year ago when it recorded $846.9 million in revenue.

But the debt load of iHeartMedia Inc. continues to eat up cash due to interest payments, resulting in a financial loss in the quarter.

The company, with 856 radio stations in some 160 markets, says growth in radio and digital advertising was primarily driven by higher political revenues from the presidential election, growth in network businesses (Premiere) and growth in the group’s news/talk formats. Broadcast radio listening was up 6% in the third quarter, based on Nielsen data, said iHeartMedia President and COO Rich Bressler.

The company and its subsidiaries suffered a quarterly loss of $34.95 million, according to its financial filings. It lists a total of $20.5 billion of debt at the end of Q3. Just since the beginning of this year, the company has paid $1.4 billion in interest on that debt.

Bressler Wednesday also mentioned growth in the traffic and weather business. That will be something to watch since CBS Radio announced two weeks ago it will be leaving iHeartMedia’s Total Traffic & Weather Network stable of clients next spring. Beginning on April 1, 2017, CBS Radio will switch to Radiate Media for traffic and weather services.

The expansion of online platform iHeartRadio is worth pointing to, Bressler said on a financial conference call. The company hit almost 92 million iHeartRadio registered users, showing growth of some 22% year-over-year. Total listening hours on the digital side were up 8% compared to Q3 a year ago.

It’s also adding two new premium services in 2017. Subscription services iHeartRadio Plus and iHeartRadio All Access will ring in the new year in January to compete with Spotify and Pandora. “It marks the first time on-demand functionality will be used to enhance a radio experience, unlike other services that offer only music collection offerings,” Bressler said. “Radio listeners will be able to replay the song they hear on live radio and save it to a playlist.”

The big picture? The company continues to focus on combining growth in radio, digital, social, mobile and event platforms as an integrated solution for advertising and marketing, Bressler said. He said the company’s overall “monthly reach of 269 million folks over the age of 6 is more than Google and Facebook.