Post-Stern analysis begins.
Howard Stern is still having an effect on CBS Radio, in part because the financial comparisons to revenue performance from last year are just starting to emerge. Also, in part, because of the confusing state of radio and TV ad-sales pacing in the early part of this year.
Stern announced his pending exit in the fourth quarter of 2004 but continued to perform on 27 of CBS’s radio stations throughout 2005. That makes this year’s first quarter the first three months without any financial contribution from Stern.
The bottom line is that CBS Radio’s upcoming quarterly performance will be hard to predict, says CBS executive VP/CFO Fred Reynolds. On Thursday (Feb. 23), Reynolds told analysts “it’s tough to read the first quarter,” because of the comparisons in ad sales with the 27 stations that used to air Stern. In fact, he said the comparisons for those Stern stations will be tough to assess for the “first few quarters” of 2006.
Aside from those stations, Reynolds said he felt the group’s roughly 150 other stations “outperformed” the industry. “Everything’s breaking later,” he said, referring to advertising buys and pacing.
CBS president/CEO Les Moonves echoed that point on the TV side. “This is a screwy first quarter,” he said when describing the advertising pacing for TV.
Radio revenues were up 1% in 2005, rising from $2.096 billion in 2004 to $2.115 billion last year.
During the last quarter of 2005, radio revenues fell 1%, from $550 million in 2004 to $544 million last year.