Cumulus Q3: Podcasting up nearly 50%, 102M September downloads

A few interesting notes related to podcasting from Cumulus Media in the company’s Q3 earnings report. Cumulus owns Westwood One and the Westwood One Podcast Network, although neither entity was mentioned by name in the earnings call remarks by CEO Mary Berner and CFO Frank Lopez-Balboa.

One of Berner’s points was that podcasting provided a bulward during trouble performance of streaming and local digital marketing: “While streaming and local digital marketing services remain pressured in the difficult macro climate, podcasting more than offset those declines. Up nearly 50% in the quarter, podcasting delivered record quarterly revenue, reflecting our particularly strong news talk portfolio and our highest ever download count, over 102 million in September, up 47% year-over-year.”

The lead executive also bragged about the company partnership with Marketplace Minute, produced by public radio:

“Also, in the quarter, we launched the new Marketplace Minute, a short-form, three-times-a-day briefing that highlights the most important stories about money, business, economy. Developed in partnership with American Public Media, the marketplace minute is distributed across smart speakers, broadcasting, and podcasting. Marking the first time any public media company has partnered with a commercial audio company to extend its reach, the Marketplace Minute also serves as a great example of our effective use of partnerships to create exciting new content for podcast audiences.”

Lopez-Balboa connected an uptick in digitalĀ  dollars with sharp growth in podcasting: ” Spot and network markets performed comparably in the quarter, down in the low 30s versus 2019, with digital slightly offsetting those results, up 2%, driven by our podcasting business, which was up nearly 50% on an entirely organic basis. Digital dollars represented over 10% of revenue in the quarter.”

On the general finance side, the company grew its top-line business sequentially month-after-month in Q3. September finished 35% higher than June. As with most radio companies, there was cost-cutting during this period, to the tune of $25-million in fixed cost reduction during the third quarter. The company has $350-million in cash.

Brad Hill