WTOP Retains Its Hold As Top Billing Station In America For Fourth Straight Year

103.5 WTOP Washington DC BIA/Kelsey Radio Billing 102.7 KIIS-FMBIA Advisory Services has released its annual look at radio station revenue and for the fourth consecutive year (and eight of the last nine) Hubbard News 103.5 WTOP Washington DC is the number one billing station in the country.

WTOP’s revenues rose from $67.8 million in 2017 to $69 million in 2018. The entire top 10 consists of the same stations for the fourth straight year with just a few changes in the rankings. iHeartMedia CHR 102.7 KIIS-FM Los Angeles remains second but its year-to-year revenue dropped slightly from $63.2 million to $61 million. iHeart Hot AC “104.3 My-FM” KBIG Los Angeles rose from fourth to third ($45 million in 2017 to $46 million in 2018). They were followed by a pair of iHeartMedia stations in New York with AC “106.7 Lite-FM” WLTW rising from fifth to fourth with $44 million (up from $43M in 2017) and CHR “Z100” 100.3 WHTZ dropping from third to fifth with $42 million (down from $45 million).

The remainder of the Top 10 remained the same as the previous year with Entercom holding the next four spots. Sports 660 WFAN/101.9 WFAN-FM New York was sixth with $41.5 million. The New York News duo of 1010 WINS ($40.5M) and 880 WCBS ($40M) were then followed by News 780 WBBM/105.9 WCFS Chicago’s $39 million. iHeartMedia News/Talk 640 KFI Los Angeles rounded out the top 10 with $35 million in revenue.

BIA also reports that over-the-air advertising at radio stations was mostly flat (down 1.6% from $13.5 billion in 2017 to $13.3 in 2018), but digital income rose 8.1% to $923 million. The combined $14.2 billion made radio the fifth most significant local advertising platform, behind direct mail, mobile, online/digital, and local television.

Previous year rankings for 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013.

Digital advertising platforms at local radio stations led revenue growth across the industry again last year, according to the first quarter edition of BIA Advisory Services’ 2019 Investing In Radio Market Report.

While over-the-air advertising remained a relatively flat $13.3 billion (down 1.6% from $13.5 in 2017), digital income rose 8.1 percent to $923 million, continuing a trend that began six years ago. Combined 2018 revenues of $14.2 billion positioned radio as the fifth most significant local advertising platform, behind direct mail, mobile, online/digital, and local television.

For the top 10 billing stations, a few adjustments in rankings occurred in 2018, while Washington, DC all-news station WTOP-FM maintained the top spot with $69 million in advertising revenue.

Los Angeles Hot AC station KIBG-FM moved up to third position with $46 million and New York-NY Lite AC station WLTW-FM moved to fourth with $44 million.

“Although local radio stations are still important players in their markets and are managing to maintain their position in the top five advertising platforms, we do expect the OTA advertising revenue of U.S. radio stations to decrease this year by 1-2 percent and through the next few years,” said Mark Fratrik, SVP and Chief Economist, BIA Advisory Services.

Fratrik forecasts that combined radio revenues will remain relatively flat for at least the next five years, while digital platforms will hit $1 billion by 2020.

Following a strong year of transactions in 2017 (due to Entercom acquiring the CBS radio stations in 2017), the volume was down to a level similar to previous years, with 609 stations being sold at an estimated value of $745 million.

“If there is some regulatory relief at the FCC, we would expect the number and dollar volume of radio station sales to increase,” said Fratrik.

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