iHeartMedia Digital Revenue Up 33% in Second Quarter


iHeartMedia boosted total revenue with the help of its fast-growing podcast segment in its first quarterly earnings report since emerging from Chapter 11.

The media giant pulled in $913 million in the three months ended June 30, an increase of $21.6 million, or 2.4%, compared to the same period a year ago. iHeart said on Thursday that digital revenue alone increased by $22.5 million, nearly 33%, driven by growth in podcasting and its 2018 acquisition of Stuff Media, as well as other digital revenue like on-demand services.

Broken down by segment, broadcast radio is still iHearMedia’s main engine, accounting for $561 million of the quarter’s revenue haul — though that was down 1.4% year-over-year. Broadcast spot revenue decreased $7.8 million primarily due to a drop in political ad spending compared to last year’s election. Revenue from Network businesses, like Total Traffic & Weather, increased $8.9 million, and Audio and Media Services revenue decreased $2.9 million as a result of a $4.1 million decrease in political revenue.

Digital revenue was $91 million, up 32.8% from $68 million, aided by 300% growth in podcast listeners on the iHeartRadio app — with 130 million registered users — and a 277% jump in its unique monthly podcast audience (podience?). Recently launched original podcasts on iHeartRadio include "Insomniac," hosted by Scott Benjamin, "Sleepwalkers," hosted by Oz Woloshyn and co-hosted by Karah Preiss, and "Life Will Be the Death of Me," comedy superstar Chelsea Handler.

Through the bankruptcy proceeding which restructured the company's balance sheet, iHeart's total debt was reduced to $5.7 billion from the gigantic $14.97 billion debt load that overwhelmed the company and caused the bankruptcy filing in March 2018. The company's net income of $11.3 billion during the quarter was driven by a net gain of $9.5 billion following its emergence in early May from bankruptcy, as well as a $1.8 billion gain from its separation from its outdoor advertising (billboards) business.

"We now have an iHeart business that will focus exclusively on increasing our lead as the number one audio company in the U.S. As demonstrated in our results, iHeartMedia’s increased revenue and overall positive financial performance reflects the resilience and growth of our businesses and the value of our recent investments, particularly in podcasting and data and analytics," said Rich Bressler, pulling triple duty as president, COO and CFO. "We are focused on building long-term shareholder value through a combination of operational and capital structure initiatives and we are prioritizing de-leveraging in our capital allocation policies."

Chairman and CEO Bob Pittman added that, looking ahead, iHearMedia "intends to increase our share of radio advertising spend, participate in TV and digital advertising revenue pools, extend our leadership in podcasting and drive sponsorship revenue."