Podcasting is quickly becoming a digital money-maker for radio companies. Cumulus Media reports its podcasting revenues shot up 139% in second quarter. “It’s now a meaningful contributor to the company’s top and bottom line,” CEO Mary Berner told analysts on the company’s quarterly conference call. And she said Cumulus’ monthly podcast downloads are up to 67 million. That’s nearly twice what they were a year ago.
Cumulus said its overall digital revenue grew 69% in second quarter compared to a year ago. And digital now makes up just over 7% of Cumulus revenues. That is up from less than 5% one year ago. “We are deliberately transforming Cumulus Media from a traditional broadcast radio business to a true audio-first media and entertainment company,” said Berner.
Streaming, which is the company’s highest-margin digital business, grew 30% during the quarter. “That growth is coming in part from new distribution channels,” Berner explained, including a deal with online audio aggregator TuneIn, along with a slate of new smart speaker skills the company developed for the Amazon Alexa and Google Home platforms. To monetize that investment, Cumulus sold an exclusive sponsorship for all the voice-activated skills to job search site Indeed. In addition, the nation’s third largest radio broadcaster has invested in software that allows it to deliver different content and ads in station streams.
The growth of digital comes in handy as revenue at the Cumulus radio station group—which delivers about seven of every 10 ad dollars Cumulus books—dropped 5.1% to $193.2 million during second quarter. “Local spot revenue continues to be a source of weakness,” Berner said. The Westwood One network division did better. Its revenue was up 5.5% to $85.8 million thought it is pacing down in the current quarter. “It tends to be lumpy from a pacing standpoint,” Berner noted.