Cumulus CEO Mary Berner has now been on the job for five months and she put her cards on the table yesterday, laying out her entire plan to turn around the company. Berner's had a chance to look under the hood in more detail and, as they say, the baby is ugly. However, Berner says given time, Cumulus has the assets to be one of the winners in the radio industry. Thursday afternoon, she detailed operational and cultural changes she hopes will steady the Cumulus ship. The big question is does she have enough time to execute her plan.
Berner said it was normal operating procedure for the prior Cumulus administration to take weeks to answer a request from a local market, if they got back to them at all. Now, Berner says the company has instituted a new process and the feedback is positive.
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.
It's one of those things that irritates employees at many company's. Cuts are being made, debt is piling up, executives are making millions, raises are not trickling down...and the bosses in the home office are flying around in a corporate jet.
Cumulus reported net revenue of $308.8 million, down from $329.2 million in Q4 of 2014. Adjusted EBITDA of $63.0 million was down 30.3% from the quarter ended December 31, 2014. For the year, net revenue and adjusted EBITDA were $1,168.7 million and $259.1 million, down 7.5% and 21.4%, respectively, from 2014.
If you listened in to the Edison Research/Triton Digital Infinite Dial webinar Thursday afternoon you probably noticed what you might consider some good news for radio. One stat was what looks like a downward trend for online listening. Despite the fact that more people are listening online, they are listening for shorter periods of time.
No surprise here and it's really not even close. Pandora's brand awareness among 12-plus listeners is over 80%, according to the latest Infinite Dial study. That compares to 67% for Apple Music, 65% for iHeartRadio, and 52% for Spotify.
Based on the 18-plus population surveyed in the 2016 Infinite Dial survey, 84% continue to use AM/FM radio as their primary source for audio in the car. Surprisingly the CD player is next at 56%, followed by an MP3 Player or the listeners' own digital music at 38%. Online radio comes in next at 21%, followed by satellite radio at 19%. And when consumers are asked how often they use an audio source, AM/FM dwarfs online radio 54% to 8%.
The Copyright Royalty Judges have made it officially official. The rates webcasters must pay to air songs on the Internet are now set through 2020 and have been officially filed. As you already know, the rate for commercial subscription services in 2016 is $0.0022 per performance. The rate for commercial nonsubscription services in 2016 is $0.0017 per performance. The 2017-2020 rates will be adjusted to reflect the increases or decreases, if any, as measured by the Consumer Price Index. If you would like to read the entire ruling, GO HERE. It's 222 pages long.
The new NAB conference is called the "Digital Futures Exchange" and it will be will be held April 17 at the show in Vegas. The NAB says this conference will showcase "emerging trends and best practices for broadcasters to leverage successful digital content strategies and drive new revenue." The conference will feature presentations by analysts such as Pew, BIA/Kelsey, and the Local Media Association.