Radio Revenues Down 9% in Q3, 10% In October

Radio advertising revenues fell 9% in the third quarter of 2008 to $4.96 billion, according to the Radio Advertising Bureau, which released the quarterly figures on Friday.

Total revenues for the first nine months of 2008 are down 7% compared to the same period in 2007, to $14.8 billion. What's more, preliminary figures from last month suggest that the situation is getting worse, not better: the RAB also said total revenue was down 10% in October compared to the same month last year.

As in previous quarters, third-quarter losses were led by big declines in local advertising--traditionally radio's bread and butter--as well as national advertising, its second-biggest revenue earner. Local was down 10% in the third quarter to $3.45 billion, and 8% for the year-to-date to $10.43 billion, while national was down 12% in the third quarter to $767 million, and 11% for the year-to-date to $2.2 billion. In October, local was down 15%, while national was down a more modest 1%.



Internet revenues--included in the RAB's "off-air" revenue category--continued to grow, but not at the same pace as in previous quarters, with a 5% increase to $458 million. That's down from the 15% growth rate in the first quarter and the 10% growth rate in the second quarter. Overall off-air revenues, including online, have grown 9% in the first nine months of 2008 compared to the same period of 2007.

Significantly, in none of these quarters has off-air exceeded 10% of radio's grand total--meaning that online revenues are still a relatively small part of the business, equaling 8.6% in the first quarter, 9.3% in the second, and 9.2% in the third quarter.

Furthermore, the average of 9.1% over the first three quarters was inflated substantially by the decrease in total radio revenues. If these had remained the same from 2007-2008, currently off-air would actually be about 8.5% of the total.

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