Excluding political, iHeart’s Q3 revenue would have been up nearly 5%. Behind a strong quarter from its podcasting division, iHeartMedia’s digital revenue grew 33.4%. The network division (Premiere and Total Traffic) also had a positive quarter, up 9.2% over 2018. Revenue from iHeart’s radio stations was flat for the quarter.
CEO Bob Pittman told analysts and investors that the radio business remains stable and is growing. And, using Proctor & Gamble as the example he’s used many times before, he said there’s a renewed interest in radio. Over the past year many radio executives have used P&G’s spending increase in radio as proof that the medium is strong and is a powerful tool for big brands. Pittman said Thursday, “there is a shift of media mix toward audio. Consumers have never left radio. Listening has remained constant — over 90%.”
Regarding the 33.4% jump in digital, iHeart’s total digital revenue was $96.7 million in the quarter. The company does not break out exactly where that money comes from, although podcasting did get a nice mention from Pittman. He said it’s growing and profitable. The reason podcasting is a profitable business for iHeartMedia is because the company owns its content and has over 800 radio stations to promote that content. While Pittman did not give specific revenue figures for podcasting, he did say, “We are seeing tremendous growth from podcasting. The industry is growing rapidly and show no signs of slowing down.”
Network revenue was $160.1 million and sponsorships and events brought in over $55 million. Political revenue for the quarter was $7.2 million compared to $23.1 million in Q3 2018. Total revenue for the company was just over $948 million, compared to $920.5 million in 2018.
The company had $277 million in the bank at the end of the quarter, with a goal of $375 to $400 million by the end of the year. Pittman said the plan is to continue to pay down debt with a net leverage goal of around 4X.