Urban One’s first quarter 2022 revenues soared 22.9% to $112.3 million, up from $91.4 million one year earlier, as the African-American media specialist recorded double-digit increases at all of its business units. Radio advertising, excluding political and digital, grew 17.4% to $39.1 million, compared to $33.3 million in the prior year period. Total radio revenues grew 13.3%. Increased demand for network advertising pushed Reach Media billings up 28.3%.
“We had [an] extremely strong first quarter performance across the platform, with advertising revenues up double-digit percentages in all of our operating segments,” CEO Alfred Liggins said in a press release ahead of the company’s Thursday morning call with analysts and investors. “Looking back at pre-pandemic revenues, when we aggregate our radio broadcasting, syndication, events and digital operations, net revenues were up 11.5% compared to Q1 2019.”
The biggest first quarter gains came in the Silver Springs, MD-based company’s digital and cable TV divisions. Digital advertising surged 49.5% year-over-year to $15.5 million from $10.4 million, while TVOne ad sales jumped 46.9% to $30.4 million from $20.7 million.
As revenues rose, so did expenses. Operating expenses climbed 12.0% to $75.8 million from $67.7 million in Q1 2021. That included a roughly $1 million increase in employee compensation, $2.2 million more in TV content expenses, $2.0 million in marketing, $2.1 million in contract labor, talent costs and consulting fees and $1.9 million in variable expenses.
Earnings shot up 38.9% to $42.0 million from $30.2 million for the same period in 2021 and up 51.6% compared to the pre-pandemic first quarter of 2019.
As the industry begins to lap the tougher comps from 2021, second quarter 2022 core radio advertising is pacing up mid-single digits.
As of March 31, Urban One had $166.4 million of cash on the books and a net leverage of 4.07-times.