Emmis Kicks Off Ratings Season With A Downer


Same-station revenue was down 4% for Emmis’ 3rd quarter which includes September, October, and November of 2017. The markets in which Emmis operates were down 2%. CEO Jeff Smulyan said, “There was nothing great about our performance.” He added these are challenging times in the broadcasting industry and pointed out what other companies were facing. No doubt he was referring to Cumulus in bankruptcy and iHeartMedia’s $20 billion in debt.

In the quarter, September was up 3%, October was down 13%, and November was down 4%. Healthcare replaced automotive as Emmis’ top category in the quarter as the auto category was off by 8%. Smulyan expects revenue to be flat or slightly down in Q4, which includes December of 2017 and January and February of 2018.

Smulyan said, “Overall it was a disappointing quarter, but I am encouraged going forward by the ratings trends at our radio stations. This fiscal year, our radio stations have been growing their ratings vis-à-vis our competitors, which should manifest itself in better revenue performance in Q4 and into the next fiscal year.”


  1. While I agree with the Robert Radio contentions, I submit that even the correction of the practice of running multiple, spot phusterclucks will not, of itself, make much of a difference.
    Radio must install at least a V-6, supercharged, fuel injected power plant.
    This would come in the form of more and better trained “live” on-air presenters. Hiring the quirky, bubbly server over to the chicken shack is a desperation move.
    Meanwhile, as a first/primary/most important priority, the development of more listenable and more effective, locally produced spots needs to be addressed – first thing in the morning..

  2. Ronald is right. Smulyan is deluding himself if he thinks “better ratings” will solve the revenue declines. It won’t. Only transactional business (agency business) is driven by ratings, and right now that business is a “race to the bottom” on rates. Smulyan and other long-time radio execs stubbornly refuse to recognize that the long CLUSTER BREAKS … 6, 8, 10, 12 or more commercials in a row DRIVE AUDIENCES AWAY during those breaks… killing the effectiveness of advertisers’ messages. Automotive is crashing down because the smart car dealers are on to this. And Smulyan and other execs are not concerned about the results that local advertisers are getting. They figure that other advertisers will just replace those who drop out. Well, the market demand for radio advertising is dropping-because more and more results-oriented local advertisers like car dealers, have been burned by the intolerably-long commercial loads and breaksl THAT is the problem, and most radio execs just look the other way on this. So the solution is NOT “better ratings,” but better RESULTS for local advertisers!

  3. Radio continues to attempt to compete in the big media motor-race by tweaking tire pressures.
    What if fails to appreciate is that, under the hood, they find the same carbureted 4-banger they have been running for decades.
    Hi revs, lots of noise but no torque.


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