iHeartMedia’s cross-platform strategy helped its first-quarter revenue grow 19.4% year-over-year to $843 million.
iHeart’s senior executives point to the growth of its digital audio group as proof that its digital transformation is working even as the broadcaster navigates a turbulent economic environment. The digital audio group’s revenues totaled $214 million, up 36% from the same period a year ago. Podcasting, part of the Digital Audio Group, accounted for 10% of the company’s revenue with $69 million in revenue in the first quarter ending March 30, 2022.
The company’s digital business also includes streaming products, third-party extension products, social media, OTT and display advertising, according to the company. Digital accounted for 25% of the company’s total revenue in the first quarter.
Of the company’s three reportable segments, the cross-platform group, which includes its 850 radio stations, saw revenue growth of 14.9% in the first quarter of 2022 over the prior year. The segment, which also includes its network operations and live events, totaled $571.1 million in revenue in the first quarter of 2022.
Chairman and CEO Bob Pittman said the company’s event business continues to recover “given our ability to create new live and virtual events and pent-up consumer and advertiser demand for these experiences”.
The broadcaster’s audio and media services group, which includes, which includes Katz Media Group and RCS, reported first-quarter revenue of $60.8 million, a year-on-year jump of 10%.
“We are delighted to report another quarter of strong results, and believe our performance is further evidence of the successful execution of our digital transformation and cross-platform strategy, and the strength of our position as an audio company. #1 in America across broadcast radio, digital radio and podcasting,” Pittman said.
Pittman continued, “We remain committed to leveraging iHeart’s transformation into a data-driven, digital-centric company; to invest in areas with strong growth potential; and to continue to focus on innovation and being at the forefront of new technologies and digital platforms that create additional growth opportunities for audio.
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iHeart’s diverse revenue base means the company doesn’t have to rely on a single category of advertising, which helps mitigate pockets of ad weakness, Pittman said on the call to Thursday results with investors.
The increase in revenue lifted iHeart to an operating profit of $12 million, compared to an operating loss of $76 million in the first quarter of 2021, according to the media company’s latest financial information.
Capital expenditures for the quarter ended March 31, 2022 were $22.6 million compared to $19 million during the same period in 2021. Capital expenditures in the first quarter increased primarily due to our real estate consolidation initiatives aimed at reducing its structural cost base, the company said.
“We plan to continue to review our business for greater efficiency and modernization, and as we adopt new technologies, we believe we will find new ways to optimize our spend base, including our announced real estate rationalization. previously,” Pitman said.
In his second quarter pace overview, iHeart President/COO Rich Bresler said he expects second quarter 2022 revenue to grow about 10% to 14% on a year-on-year basis despite a slower-than-expected month of April. “We just ended April and our consolidated revenue is up 8%,” he said.
iHeartMedia announced earlier this week that it was setting up a new digital audio ad network and hired former Stitcher chief revenue officer Sarah van Mosel to run it. The iHeart Audience Network (iAN) will collect advertising inventory from iHeartRadio databases and independent publishers via streaming and podcasting.
“The iHeart Audience Network brings together broadcast, podcast and streaming audiences at an unprecedented scale, coupled with the largest sales force in audio, provides us with the capabilities for our broadcast radio to participate in the industry $160 billion in digital technology,” Pittman said.
iHeartMedia said in a press release that iAN will enable marketers to achieve scale in their digital audio purchases and give them the ability to reach addressable audiences across multiple channels and devices.
JThe broadcaster’s balance sheet showed $5.7 billion in total debt and $5.4 billion in net debt as of March 30, 2022.
Randy J. Stine has spent the past 40 years working in audio production and broadcasting news on radio. He joined Radio World in 1997 and covers new technologies and regulatory issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Michigan State University.