For publicly traded radio companies, 2022 got off to a formidable start with double-digit revenue growth virtually across the board. Of the ten radio operators that have reported their first quarter results, all but one posted double-digit topline growth compared to the same period in 2021.
Ranked on total revenues, iHeartMedia leads the list with $843.5 million in first quarter revenue. Audacy is a distant second with $275.3 million, followed by Cumulus Media at $232.0 million.
Based on year-over-year growth, Entravision Communications tops the ranker with a 32% year-over-year increase. But Entravision’s growth is primarily due to digital and acquisitions. It also owns TV stations. Urban One, which also owns TV and radio stations, was second with 22.9% revenue growth in the quarter. It is followed by iHeartMedia with a 19.4% increase, then Beasley Broadcast Group (+15.6%), Cumulus Media (+15.0%), Auadacy (+14.3%), Townsquare Media (+12.9%) and Saga Communications (+12.0%). The only radio operator that didn’t make the double-digit derby was Salem Media Group, which grew 5.5%, dragged down by a light publishing schedule in its book division.
Each company segments its business differently. And several have radio/audio divisions that are dwarfed by their other business lines, making apples-to-apples comparisons difficult.
At Entravision, which owns 46 primarily Spanish-language radio stations, audio made up 15% of billings in Q1 and grew 11% in the quarter to $12.6 million from $11.3 million in Q1 2021.
At Urban One, radio ad sales comprised about 35% of first quarter revenues. That means the company’s impressive 22.9% growth rate is driven more by digital (+49.5%) and cable TV advertising (+46.9%) than by radio ad sales, which increased 17.4% to $39.1 million. Urban One’s total radio revenues grew 13.3%.
Conversely, it was broadcast radio that drove the most growth at Salem Media Group during the quarter. Salem’s broadcast division revenues rose 10.0% year-over-year to $48.4 million from $44.0 million, with “some of the biggest growth in the division emanating from traditional radio revenue,” according to CEO David Santrella. Broadcast accounted for 77% of Salem’s first quarter revenues but digital billings from its broadcast division are reported in the digital bucket. Worth noting: It was Salem’s publishing division that stank up the room, so to speak, as publishing revenues sank 31.8% to $3.9 million from $5.7 million due to a significantly lighter book release schedule compared to last year.
Even at companies without TV or publishing divisions, a growing amount of topline growth is directly attributable to digital. Digital revenue accounted for 51% of Townsquare revenues in Q1 and made up 25% of iHeartMedia’s revenues, a new company high, rising 36% year-over-year. Digital comprised 21% of total Q1 revenue at Audacy and grew 16% year-over-year. Digital is now 14% of Cumulus Media’s revenue, increasing 18% during the quarter. Digital advertising comprised 14% of revenues at Urban One increasing 49.5%. Digital revenue increased 35.5% and accounted for 14% of total revenue for the quarter at Beasley. At Salem, digital media revenue increased 7.1% to account for 10% of total revenues. Saga does not break out its digital revenues separately.
And at Entravision, which has transformed its business in recent years through a series of transactions into a global player in advertising and technology, 78% of revenues are derived from digital.