Local Online Radio Looks Strong in 2012

According to the first edition of its quarterly Investing In Radio Market Report, BIAKelsey reports over-the-air local radio station revenues in 2011 reached $14.1 billion, a 0.4% increase from the year before. Radio’s online revenues increased 15.1% in 2011, reaching $439 million.

The report anticipates online revenues in 2012 will continue to grow at a fast pace, becoming an important portion of station income. Overall radio industry revenues are expected to reach $14.6 billion in 2012, a 3.5% rise over last year, bolstered by the national election. Online radio ad revenues will grow from $505 in 2012 to $767 million in 2016.

Mark Fratrik, vice president and chief economist, BIA/Kelsey, says “... the industry always picks up steam in an election year... news stations, in particular, continue to be leaders in many markets by creating comprehensive over-the-air and digital portfolios... to drive deeper advertiser engagement and prove their value... “

Radio Station Revenues (5 Year Forecast; $ in Billions)


Over-the-Air Revenues

Online Revenues


18.1 B$







0.41 B$
















Source: BIA/Kelsey, April 2012

The study shows the wide variations between some markets and identifies several small and mid-size areas that were able to distinguish themselves in 2011.

  • Portland, Maine market had the largest increase in revenues over 2010, with $25.4 million, or 22.8%
  • Worcester, Massachusetts, posted a 15.8% increase, with $12.9 million in revenue
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan, a 10.5% increase with $6.1 million in revenue
  • Providence-Warwick-Pawtucket, Rhode Island, where revenue grew to $45.3 million, a 9.9% increase over 2010

Fratrik notes that this year began optimistically with a significant rise in transactions. All-told, station transaction volume reached $4.3 billion in 2011 from a total of 1,080 transactions, of which, 682 were in metropolitan markets and 398 were in non-metro markets.

Fratrik said, “... the major transactions of the year turned out being unique... due to strategic decisions made by each company... in 2012... the improving economy will increase the number of station sales...  as they prove to be more than an over-the-air profit center... ”

The Investing in Radio Market report profiles every Arbitron-rated market with historic and projected market demographic and financial statistics, offering a detailed analysis and guide of all owners in the Arbitron-rated markets. The “Investing In” financial guide series provides estimated forecasts for over-the-air and individual market-level online advertising revenues, technical data, ownership and acquisition information for every market.

BIA/Kelsey’s forecast methodology is based on actual estimates of local online market advertising revenue totals. Estimates are solicited from local radio stations and knowledgeable local market experts. To provide an accurate review of the advertising marketplace, the model does not include revenues of e-commerce sales through daily or weekly deal campaigns or any retransmission consent.

For additional information from BIAKelsey, please visit here. For the Investing in Radio Market Report, go here.


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