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Three-Quarters In, Radio Revenue Is Up 2%

Growth continues to be strongest in ‘digital’ sources

The bottom-line percentages may be modest; nevertheless, they continue in the positive.

RAB released the latest total for U.S. commercial radio revenue. It was up 2% total over the same period a year ago. For the first nine months of the year, radio’s overall revenue also is up 2%. Not since the late 1990s has radio seen such growth over a similar period, in the opinion of Jeff Haley, head of the Radio Advertising Bureau.

“Radio’s 2% Q3 increase to $4.527 billion caps seven consecutive quarters of upward momentum,” RAB stated. Industry revenue for the year to date is about $12.9 billion. (Taking last year’s RAB totals and its pacing for this year, RW calculates the current trend would lead to a year-end $17.5 billion total for 2011, including the typically busy fourth quarter.)

“The positive growth we’ve seen over the 21-month period is unprecedented since the late 1990s. Once again, this underscores radio’s strength during these unusual economic times,” stated Haley, who is president and CEO of the sales advocacy organization.

In the quarter, spot revenue was flat, network revenue was up 2%, “digital” was up 17% and off-air was up 10%. For the year, spot is flat, network is up 2%, digital is up 18% and off-air is up 8%. “Digital” includes money from websites, online streaming and HD Radio including HD2 and HD3 stations. Network includes the top five radio network companies.

AT&T, McDonald’s and Comcast Cable were the biggest spenders on spot radio in the three months.

Insurance companies ranked third in RAB’s spot radio ad spending for the quarter but showed a big increase, 48%, compared to a year ago; other big categories like car dealers and restaurants showed smaller jumps.

Numbers are as reported by the accounting firm of Miller, Kaplan, Arase & Co.