It was the first full quarter of reported earnings for Cumulus since coming out of bankruptcy. Radio station revenue was down, Westwood One revenue was up, digital revenue was up, and political revenue is strong. Here are all the details.
Total revenue from radio stations in the 90 markets Cumulus operates declined 3.2%, or $6.5 million, to $196.4 million. However, Cumuls was running WLUP in Chicago a year ago so that revenue is gone now that the company no longer operates the station. When you back out the WLUP revenue loss, the radio station decline is less than 2%.
Digital revenue was up $2.4 million over 2017 and political revenue in 2018 is expected to come in higher than the $18 million back in 2016, the last mid-term, non-presidential election year.
Westwood One revenue increased 1.7% over Q3 of 2017. The Westwood One increase was driven mostly by the growth of podcasting, according to CEO Mary Berner. It was the sixth consecutive quarter of revenue growth at Westwood One, despite taking another hit of $1.8 million from the demise of United States Traffic Network.
Berner said Cumulus’ top-performing markets were New York, Chicago, Minnesota, Nashville, and Fresno. The strongest categories were Home Builders and General Services, while the weaker performing categories included Retail and Auto.
Berner said the company continues to make progress on its key initiatives, monetizing digital, inventory management, growing the Westwood One podcast network, and cost management. She believes the company will generate $100 million in free cash flow every year for years to come to help pay down debt.
Q4 is pacing up in the single digits.