Thanks, Obama … and Hillary, and local and statewide candidates seeking political office in 2016. Your ad spending at media targeting African-Americans helped Radio One narrow its net loss in Q4 2016 while net revenue improved by 3.8% from the last three months of 2015.
But, it may have been some gamblers and guests at a brand-new casino resort that truly gave the D.C.-area company a much needed shot in the arm.
“Political advertising helped our radio broadcasting segment achieve both revenue and Adjusted EBITDA growth compared to the fourth quarter of 2015,” Radio One President/CEO Alfred C. Liggins III said ahead of his company’s Q4 and full-year 2016 earnings call with financial analysts.
Net revenue was approximately $113.6 million, from $109.4 million in the same period in 2015. Radio One’s consolidated net loss attributable to common shareholders finished Q4 at $3.4 million (-$0.07 per diluted share), slimming down from $24.4 million in the year-ago time frame (50 cents).
How significant were political dollars for Radio One? In Q4 political accounted for $5.7 million. This helped combat an 8.5% decline in radio advertising, to $51 million — a dip largely due to the displacement of regular advertising with those for individuals running for public office and for state and local propositions.
Speaking of Radio One’s radio division, Liggins said, “We experienced net revenue growth most significantly in our Charlotte, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Raleigh and St. Louis markets. However, this growth was partially offset by declines in other markets, with Dallas, Houston, and Washington, D.C. experiencing the most significant declines.”
On the TV One side of the company’s business, Cable Television Advertising revenue climbed by 18.1%, to $22.7 million, while Cable TV affiliation fees were statistically flat, at $25.3 million.
“Together with a nice rebound in TV advertising revenue, this helped drive our 6% growth in consolidated Adjusted EBITDA,” Liggins noted.
Meanwhile, Radio One booked its first income from its massive MGM National Harbor Las Vegas-style resort and gaming center, “which had a strong opening in December.” The facility is located in a recently developed area of Maryland where the Anacostia Freeway meets the Capitol Beltway, just east of the reconstructed Woodrow Wilson Bridge and the city of Alexandria, Va.
“Overall I was pleased with our performance for the year, which was towards the upper end of EBITDA guidance,” Liggins added.
While Radio One’s Q1 2017 guidance shows a year-over-year decline, Liggins is not surprised.
“First quarter radio revenues have been understandably soft, given the political comps from 2016, and we are currently pacing down approximately 5%,” he noted.
But, the company’s TV business and investment in National Harbor are expected to offset struggles at its core radio business and at Reach Media, its national radio programming syndication arm that brings hosts such as Tom Joyner, Rickey Smiley, Ed Lover, and DL Hughley to affiliates across the U.S.
“TV One’s ratings are rebounding from last year’s loss of [syndicated second-run sitcom] ‘Martin,’ and for fourth quarter total day households were up 2% and Persons 25-54 were up 3% compared to Q4 2015,” Liggins said. “The positive ratings momentum is continuing into the first quarter of 2017, where we are up 7% and 5% in total day households and Persons 25-54, respectively.”
For the full year of 2016, Radio One saw its net revenue move to $456.2 million, from $450.9 million. Its net loss attributable to common shareholders shrunk to $423,000, from $74 million.