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Local Radio Comes in Fifth Most Significant Local Ad Platform in 2017

by | Apr 6, 2018 | BIA, Blog, Radio, SAM

Transaction Volume High and Top Billing Radio Stations Remain the Same

Our first edition of Investing In Radio® Market Report reports that the radio industry reported a 9.7% percent increase in online revenues, compared with a slight decline in over-the-air income of 2.0 percent. This combined to cause a 0.2% drop from 2016 to end the year at $13.87 billion, which placed local radio in the fifth position ad revenue-wise. Direct mail, television, newspaper, mobile local ad platforms were first through fourth respectively.

Although still important players in their local markets, local radio stations are facing an unprecedented number of new audio entertainment and information sources, including many that are unregulated. It’s an aggressive environment that competes for audiences with local radio.

Now, these challenges didn’t affect the volume of radio sales, which was the highest since 2011, with 752 stations being sold at a value of $3.32 billion.? Much of that dollar increase from the most recent years is due to the Entercom acquisition of CBS Radio.


In terms of station performance, the top local radio stations from 2016 continued to be successful in 2017. The list of the top ten billers remained the same with only a few slight changes in the order although the top three remained the same – WTOP, Washington, DC; KIIS, Los Angeles, CA; and WHTZ, New York, NY.


The fact that the top billing radio stations remained the same year-over-year is a testament to the position that these radio stations have in their local markets. They provide the local news, information, and entertainment that continue to attract substantial audiences that advertisers want to reach.

Overall, the radio industry is attempting to build out digital channels to reach local communities and are smartly focusing on overall platform improvements. Opportunities local radio stations are leveraging include the further adoption of HD Radio technology to transmit their programming and add subchannels for additional programming. With car manufacturers including HD Radio receivers in their new cars, radio has a fresh opportunity to impress advertisers and consumers. According to BIA data, as of January 2018, 211 AM and 1,980 FM stations were broadcasting an HD Radio signal.

BIA just completed a thorough analysis of radio in the report, Market Assessment and Opportunities for Local Radio: 2018-2022. This new state-of-the-industry report covers regulatory issues, advertising revenues, advertiser satisfaction, audience demographics, programming trends and content, maturing digital platforms and local radio opportunities. Download the executive summary of the report here. The report can be purchased here.
Other radio reports just published include: 2018 1st edition of Investing In Radio® Market Report that provides a complete profile of every Nielsen Audio market, and the Investing In Radio® 2018 Ownership Report that delivers a detailed analysis and guide of all owners in the Nielsen Audio rated markets and non-rated markets.