Naples-based radio operator Beasley Broadcast Group continues to see growth in the digital side of its business.
That growth has helped the company offset the impacts of economic uncertainty on national advertising.
While national advertising remained sluggish last year, digital advertising continued to strengthen, generating higher revenues.
The company reported total revenues of $256.4 million for 2022, up from $241.4 million in 2021 – representing a more than 6.2% increase.
In the fourth quarter, revenues rose 1.8% over the year to $72 million, mostly due to an uptick in digital and political advertising.
In a news release, Caroline Beasley, the company’s CEO, said the results for the quarter and year reflected “the ongoing success of our digital transformation and revenue diversification strategies.”
In the fourth quarter, digital revenues rose 13.2% over the year – and accounted for nearly 17% of all revenues.
For the year, those revenues increased 25%, growing to $40.8 million.
“Digital revenue has consistently outpaced national spot advertising revenue over the past several quarters due to a combination of organic growth and contributions from the second quarter acquisition of our white label digital agency business, Guarantee Digital,” Beasley said.
The broadcaster, she said, is “solidly on the path” to achieving its immediate goal for digital revenues to reach 20% of total revenues.
Beasley’s radio brands remain dominant in the Nielsen Audio ratings based on listener data. It continues to see growth in local audio – or traditional over-the-air – advertising, which its leadership attributes to strong local relationships, content and listenership.
The company remains focused on monetizing audio and digital content through “new local business development, revenue diversification and maximizing political revenue opportunities,” Beasley said.
With so much economic uncertainty, a cost reduction program was initiated in the second half of 2022, with most of the trims occurring in October.
National advertising has been trending down since the pandemic hit. For Beasley, it decreased from almost 21% of total revenue in 2019 to 12.2% in the fourth quarter.
One-time charges lead to losses
While revenues rose in 2022, Beasley ended up in the red.
The company lost $25.8 million, or 87 cents a share, in the fourth quarter.
For the year, its losses totaled $43.4 million, or $1.47 a share.
The losses were blamed primarily on impairments related to Beasley’s FCC licenses, goodwill and franchise rights. They totaled $54.7 million for the year.
Asked about the losses in a phone interview, Beasley said they in part reflect lower valuations for company assets, based on various factors, including higher interest rates, resulting in an increased cost of capital, and lesser projected revenues, partially due to the softness in national advertising.
In 2020, the company lost $18.9 million, after taking a big hit from COVID-19, as many businesses cut back on their advertising and marketing spend on radio, TV and the Internet.
Those losses were narrowed to $1.5 million in 2021.
Looking ahead, Beasley said she remains “cautiously optimistic” for 2023.
Despite continued economic turbulence, she’s particularly upbeat on digital, not just as it relates to advertising, but listenership. Total audience grew by 30 percent from 2021 to 2022, driven by digital.
“That’s really the growth. The growth engine of the company right now,” Beasley said.
The company owns and operates 61 AM and FM stations in 14 large- and mid-size markets across the country, including Naples-Fort Myers.
Its stations reach about 20 million listeners weekly over the air, online and on smart devices, and millions regularly engage with the broadcaster’s brands and personalities through digital platforms, from Facebook to Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Naples Daily News: Naples-based Beasley Broadcast benefits from investments in its digital business