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BIA: Local Radio Reached $13.6 Billion Last Year. WTOP Repeats As Top Biller.

New revenue estimates released today show the radio industry delivered a second consecutive bounce-back year in 2022 from the COVID ad pullbacks. Total local radio over-the-air and digital revenue topped $13.6 billion last year, according to updated figures from BIA Advisory Services. That marks a 7.4% increase from $12.6 billion in 2021. Over-the-air ad sales grew 2.2%, to $11 billion, up from $10.7 billion in 2021. Digital once again stole the show, surging 35% to $2.6 billion from $1.9 billion in 2021.

The new figures show local radio revenues have come a long way from BIA’s $11.03 billion estimate for 2020 and are getting closer to the $14.2 billion from pre-COVID 2019.

“Looking at last year’s ad revenue results, it shows that radio is maintaining an important position in their local markets, particularly as it expands and improves its online digital presence,” Nicole Ovadia, VP of Forecasting at BIA, said in a news release. “This year, we are making a particular effort to track the digital revenue of local radio stations and believe this breakout in our forecast will be valuable to everyone in the industry.”

Due to the absence of significant political spending, Ovadia forecasts a revenue increase of the magnitude seen last year will be harder to pull off in 2023. However, she says 2024 political advertising will start earlier in the cycle than usual, potentially bleeding into late fourth quarter 2023.

Spoken Word Dominates Top Billers

Meanwhile, BIA has issued its signature top-billing radio stations tally for 2022, based on over-the-air revenue. For a ninth consecutive year, WTOP-FM Washington, DC leads the league. The Hubbard Radio news outlet billed $69 billion last year, down slightly from $70 million in 2021. iHeartMedia CHR KIIS-FM Los Angeles stayed in second place, with revenues growing to $44.1 million, up from $43.0 million in 2021. AC sister “106.7 Lite FM” WLTW New York held steady in third with $35.1 million in OTA revenue, up from $34.6 million the year before.

The next five stations on the list each advanced one position in rank. Beasley Media Group “98.5 The Sports Hub” WBZ-FM Boston moved 5-4 with $34.3 million, up from $33.4 million. iHeart’s New York CHR “Z100” WHTZ advanced 6-5 with $33.5 million, compared to $33.0 million in 2021.

From there it was sister hot AC “104.3 MyFM” KBIG Los Angeles (7-6) with $33.2 million, up from $32.3 million; Audacy news WINS-AM & FM (8-7) at $32.1 million, up from $31.6 million; and sports sister “The Fan” WFAN – AM & FM (9-8) at $32.0 million, up from $31.5 million in 2021. In ninth place is Audacy news “NewsRadio” WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM Chicago, which fell five positions from No. 4 last year due to a revenue decline from $34.0 million to $32.0 million. New to the top 10 is Cox Media Group news/talk WSB/WSBB Atlanta, up from 12th with $31.6 million, compared to $25.5 million in 2021. Audacy news “NewsRadio 880” WCBS-AM New York just missed the list, landing at No. 11.

Of the top 10, six were spoken word brands and four were music. Unlike previous years, none of the top billers broadcast exclusively on AM. Broken out by company, iHeart captured four of the top 10, Audacy had three, and Hubbard, Beasley and Cox had one apiece.

Deal Market Up Two-Thirds From 2021.

BIA’s tracking of the radio deal market from 2018 to 2022 shows deal volume up considerably in 2022 but from a minuscule base in 2021. “The radio deal market can best be described as sluggish in the past three years,” BIA’s VP of Media Valuations, Lauren Ross said. “Although deal volume increased by two-thirds in 2022 to $300 million from $190 million in 2021, total radio station sales have been very low since 2018. All totaled, there were just seven radio buys of $10.0 million or more in 2022.”

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