The Radio Advertising Bureau has rebranded non-spot revenue, now calling it off-air revenue, and there is no denying that the category is steadily moving toward critical mass. It’s upward income trajectory actually has brought national spot’s dwindling total into view, and it did well enough to take a -8% Q2 spot performance and whittle it down to a -6% total income result, according to the latest numbers from Miller Kaplan Arase & Co. Local was down -7% for the quarter and is down -6% YTD; national was down -11% for both, resulting in spot totals of -8% Q2 and -7% YTD. Network actually managed to come in flat during Q2 and is in the black at +3% YTD. Off-air came in at +10% for Q2 and +12% YTD.
The off-air category was good for better than $500M in Q2 – that’s half a Billion dollars – and stands at $889M for the year so far. At this growth rate, it’s expected to become a $2B+ category by next year. Off-air, a combination of online operations and “experiential marketing partnerships,” now comprises 9% of radio’s total income.
Automotive has been a hurting puppy when it comes to ad categories, in most markets. RAB says losses there have been soothed at least a little bit by political income. But it has three categories that are spending significant amounts of cash, and significantly more than they have in the past. Insurance companies are climbing the charts with a bullet, and sales staffs have also had good results with department and discount stores/shopping centers and professional services.
RBR/TVBR observation: Whenever you get a revenue release and the headline has nothing to do with spot sales results, you know that to a certain extent, RAB is playing games. No matter how you look at it, radio is in trouble. They have to get into the 21st century and use all available tools to grow. Analog is going away everywhere else, and radio will be no exception – while the jury is still out how local digital broadcasting will pay off, radio had better fledge itself from it deteriorating analog nest, go digital, and find out how to reap its rewards as quickly as possible. And radio had better master that other digital world – the internet – with real web portals, real compelling local content and real competition for others already in the internet world.