“Radio is our DNA and our foundation, for which we are proud,” Townsquare Media CEO Bill Wilson said in a shareholder letter distributed Tuesday morning, concurrent to the release of its Q4 and full-year 2018 earnings results.
For Wilson, radio is just the beginning.
For Townsquare and its C-Suite, 2018 was “a significant and transformative year” — one that ended with the departure of co-CEO Dhruv Prasad and a fiery Townsquare Ignite and Townsquare Interactive propelling the company’s revenue beyond AM and FM stations in ways once envisioned for its live events business.
Now, there’s no more “NAME” to blame for poor quarterly results, as May 2018 saw the sale of North American Midway Entertainment (NAME) to North American Fairs LLC, an entity owned by Danny Huston — the one known for his 25-year ownership of the Indiana State Fair Midway, not the actor who portrayed “General Erich Ludendorff” in the 2017 film Wonder Woman.
Townsquare hinted at a major shift away from live events in November 2017, following the naming of Bill Wilson and Dhruv Prasad as co-CEOs, with Steven Price shifting to a role as Executive Chairman of the Board one month earlier.
On Tuesday, Wilson, CFO Stu Rosenstein and EVP/Investor Relations and Corporate Communications Claire Yenicay were the lone C-Suite voices on Townsquare’s call; at the recent NobleCon annual investor conference in Fort Lauderdale, Wilson and Yenicay were the two company representatives courting potential investors.
An investment and “renewed focus” on digital was seen in 2018 with a focus put on “Local First.” Wilson said, “Our renewed focus on our local media and marketing solutions businesses translated into investing incremental time and resources in our local programming, sales, traffic, in-market leadership, client services and other valuable local assets. As a result, we added first class sellers across the company, building our largest sales force ever.”
While Townsquare’s strong 2018 financial results are certainly driven by its broadcast foundation, Wilson also points to “the unmatched success of our proprietary, in-house digital platform.”
Both Townsquare Interactive, its digital marketing solutions business, and Townsquare Ignite, its digital programmatic advertising platform, have seen steady growth. These segments are seen as key growth drivers for the entire company.
“As we have previously discussed, we believe we can continue to grow and scale Townsquare Interactive into a $100 million revenue business within approximately the next three to five years, while continuing to maintain its strong margin profile,” Wilson said.
Meanwhile, in 2018 Townsquare Ignite was the fastest growing segment, with net revenue increasing more than 50% compared to the prior year. “We anticipate 2019 will have similar growth rates for Townsquare Ignite, and like Townsquare Interactive, we believe we can grow Ignite into a $100 million revenue business within approximately the next three to five years,” Wilson predicts. “When we talk to our teams internally, we do not position ourselves as a radio company but rather as a premier local advertising and marketing solutions company focused on markets smaller than the Top 50 DMAs in the U.S.. Radio is our DNA and our foundation, for which we are proud, but it is just the starting point for Townsquare as we continue to evolve and grow as a multi-platform media and solutions company for our clients and communities.”