Radio Slips On Weakness in Spot, Network

The third quarter was another bummer for the radio business, which saw total revenues slip 2% from $4.6 billion in 2013 to $4.56 billion in the same period this year, according to the latest figures from the Radio Advertising Bureau. The decline was especially noteworthy in light of this year’s midterm elections, which usually benefit the bottom line with political ad spending.

The drop was due to weakness in spot and network advertising, the two traditional mainstays of the radio business, offset somewhat by increases in digital and off-air revenues. Spot advertising fell 3% from $3.68 billion in the third quarter of 2013 to $3.57 billion in the third quarter of 2014, while network slid 4% from $275 million to $264 million over the same period.

On the positive side, digital revenues jumped 11% from $244 million to $271 million, and off-air revenues rose 14% from $401 million to $459 million.

The weak third-quarter performance follows a flat first half of the year, leaving total revenues for the first three quarters down 1% compared to the same period last year, to $12.9 billion.



It’s worth noting that the third quarter marked the first time in radio history that digital eclipsed network ad revenues. However, digital remains a fairly small part of the overall business, at 5.9% of total revenues.

Although the overall figure was down, a number of categories did show growth in the third quarter, including health care advertising, up 4%; professional services, up 5%; and insurance companies, up 1%. Smaller categories experiencing growth included home improvement, up 6%; real estate and retirement communities, up 15%; transportation, up 32%; and postal and delivery services, up 59%.

The top advertisers in the quarter were Comcast Xfinity, AT&T, T-Mobile, McDonald’s, Geico, PepsiCo, Sprint, Toyota Dealers Association, Allstate, and Safeway.

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