Cumulus Pulled In $94.7 Million Less Revenue In 2015 Than 2014


The numbers are bad all around for radio’s number-two company. Not only did revenue decrease about $20 million in Q4, typically radio’s best quarter of the year, Cumulus took in a total of $94.7 million less in 2015 than it did in 2014. Here’s where Cumulus lost all that revenue: $58.3 million in ad revenue, $16.0 million in digital advertising, $15.9 million in political advertising, and $4.5 million in licensing fees and other revenue.

And here’s how the company explained why it lost all that money: “The decreases in national broadcast advertising revenue and network broadcast advertising revenue were a result of three distinct factors. First, national spot advertising sales are heavily dependent on ratings across our stations. Declining ratings in certain key markets resulted in a significant decrease in national spot revenue period over period. Second, our largest competitor has strategically shifted its focus towards national advertising clients, resulting in lower market share and revenues for us and the remainder of the industry. Third, our sales execution in 2015 compared to 2014 was less successful partially due to national advertisers seeking more digital advertising components than we are currently able to fulfill. Local spot advertising revenue also decreased but at a lesser rate than national spot advertising and network advertising revenue. While local spot advertising is also impacted by ratings changes, it can be more easily augmented through local events and local talent endorsements. Local advertising clients tend to focus more on the direct results of their advertising campaigns, instead of purely basing their decisions on audience metrics. This is particularly true in smaller and mid-sized markets where ratings measurements are taken only two or four times a year, versus weekly ratings measurements in major markets that impact national spot sales. Local advertising clients also place less emphasis on newer digital advertising products, allowing us to retain more revenue than in the national spot marketplace. The decrease in political advertising revenue was due to revenue in 2015 having less activity compared to increased activity associated with mid-term and gubernatorial elections that drove revenue in 2014. The decrease in digital revenue was principally driven by the winding down of our advertising relationship with”


  1. Unless massive improvements in the products and services offered to audiences and the advertisers are made, it won’t much matter if “better” sales people are attracted and pour onto the street. Even hard closers who are selling schmutz and drek are going to be getting that good ol’ buyer’s remorse – and right smartly.
    (Some exceptions allowed.)

  2. It’s a pity that this segment of the Cumulus story is buried under selling an airplane and assorted observations that may or may not affect the company’s future.
    There are plenty of successful stations in rated markets that do not subscribe to ratings. In Cumulus’ case, the overemphasis on top ratings is killing the national and, to some degree, local sales effort.
    My advice to Mary would be to drop the ratings subscriptions and spend more money on recruiting top radio sales managers who sell without ratings-people who don’t need ratings because they believe in radio. The need to constantly be told that “you are loved” (ratings) is a sickness that will never be satisfied. It’s an old axiom that if you live by the ratings…………..


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