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Range Of Radio’s Growth Categories As Varied As the 50 States.

What are the hot growth categories for radio for the remainder of 2021 and heading into 2022? While there are some commonalities across the industry, the answer really depends on the market you’re prospecting in.

“If you're in a state where online gambling has become legalized, you're definitely going to see a spike with online gambling, as we have here in Tennessee,” Krista Freeman, General Sales Manager at Cumulus Media Memphis, said during a recent sales webinar presented by Futuri. Sports betting is legal in more than two dozen states, though many only allow in-person betting. Full mobile betting is legal in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, the District of Columbia and, of course, Nevada. Most of these states allow multiple sportsbooks to do business, making for a competitive ad market, while a handful have only legalized one provider.

Media outlets across Tennessee are benefitting from the October 2020 legalization of online sport betting in the state. “We’re having conversations with all of those that own sports betting [businesses],” said Craig Hahn, Senior VP of Sales at iHeartMedia, Nashville. “Those guys are trying to figure out how to stand out. … That's really given the market a boost.”

The situation is similar in Michigan, which launched in-person wagering at the MGM Grand Detroit on March 11, 2020. Now online books such as BetMGM, Draft Kings and Fan Duel are duking it out for sports gambling dollars. “We’re capitalizing on the sports books and gambling right now,” said Beasley Detroit Integrated Sales Manager Jonathan Ghazel.

Travel down to the Sunshine State and the hot category right now is tourism. Long one of the pillars of the Florida economy, it is now roaring back to life. “We've got theme parks and people traveling from all over the country,” said Jason Meder, VP/GM at Cox Media Group Orlando. He is also optimistic about the closely related entertainment category, since radio stations have a history of success at creating events and putting bodies in seats at entertainment venues. “We are really focused on how that's going to look and I don't think it's exclusive to Orlando,” Meder said. “You’re starting to see these big events happening all over the country… The entertainment category is something we're certainly looking to bounce back in many different ways.”

Beyond sports betting, tourism and entertainment, there are other categories rebounding as summer begins to wane and attention turns to back-to-school, the return of football, and the ramp-up to the holiday buying season. Professional services is hot, including mortgage, real estate, legal, and financial wealth management.Quick serve restaurants bounced back in second quarter and is expected to continue to gain steam.Just last week, Wendy’s announced it would nearly double its breakfast-related ad spend this year to $25 million. And with businesses across a wide swath of categories dealing with workforce shortages, recruitment advertising has taken off at radio in a big way.

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