BIA/Kelsey: Online/digital powers local revenue growth

BIA/Kelsey today released its Annual U.S. Local Media Forecast for the next four years, with data covering 2012-2017. In it, two pillars of local-media revenue growth are identified: digital, and mobile. Traditional revenue (such as over-the-air and print) are forecast to remain essentially flat.

The report’s top-line forecast is bullish. Local media revenue growth is predicted to pace at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.8 percent. That forecast maps dollars to grow from $132.9-billion to $151.5-billion after four years. The growth is driven by an optimistic online/digital forecast, which sees that revenue segment growing at a CAGR clip of 13.8 percent. Traditional ad revenues will experience fractional growth during the period, with an annual growth rate of one-tenth of a percent.

At a quick glance, the report might seem uninspiring for radio, whose participation on the digital side rises from 0.4 percent to 0.5 percent. But Mark Fratrik, Chief Economist at BIA/Kelsey, refutes that as a gloss: “It’s a half percent of the total advertising marketplace. The total marketplace [will experience] about a $19B increase. Radio will have a higher percentage of a larger pie.”

Doing the arithmetic, a slightly larger portion of a much bigger pie translates to substantial dollars. Radio’s ownership of the 2013 digital pie is worth approximately $532-million, and radio’s slightly increased share of the larger 2017 pie will be worth about $758-million. That dollar growth over the four-year period is 42 percent.

Talking to RAIN this morning, Fratrik emphasized the lumpiness of a radio industry which unevenly pursues digital-revenue opportunities.

“Some radio companies are much more aggressive than others at generating digital, online revenues. The increase of digital share is good news, [and] there are some broadcasters who are doing better than that. Any radio station has the potential to do better [than the forecast numbers]. Radio has assets that many other media companies covet. The local content, the local sales staff, and relationships with local advertisers.”

Brad Hill