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iHeartMedia Revenue Up 19% to $843M in First Quarter

Strong broadcast radio advertising and a U.S.-leading podcast audience helped iHeartRadio deliver a year over year improvement.

Riding the resurgence of broadcast radio and its growing podcasting division, iHeartMedia’s revenue improved 19.4% to $843 million from Jan. to March 31, the company announced with its first quarter earnings report Thursday (May 5). Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose 42% to $145 million.

The quarterly performance “is further evidence of the successful execution of our digital transformation and multiplatform strategy, and the power of our position as the #1 audio company in America across broadcast radio, digital radio, and podcasting,” said Bob Pittman, chairman and CEO, in a statement.

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iHeartMedia shares fell 3.3% to $15.50 in after-hours trading following the earnings release.

iHeartMedia reports the financial results for its two divisions, the digital audio group and the multi-platform group. Revenue for the digital audio group, which includes iHeartMedia’s podcasting business, grew 36% year over year to $214 million. That gain was driven by demand for digital advertising and higher revenues from new podcasts and growth from existing podcasts. The iHeartPodcast Network had 443 million streams/downloads in March, up 72% year over year, with two-thirds of the growth coming from podcasts launched before April 2021.

The multi-platform group revenue climbed 15% year over year to $571 million, “primarily as a result of continued recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the company stated. Broadcast radio revenue grew $58 million, or 16.2%, to $416.5 million. Sponsorships and events, a smaller category, improved 50.1% to $33.6 million.

Although COVID-19 hurt iHeartMedia in 2020 as brands pulled back on advertising spending, the company recovered the losses. Its first quarter revenue of $843 million far exceeded the $780.6 million from the first quarter of 2020. Free cash flow fell from $52.8 million to -$74.8 million, however, primarily due to 2021 bonus and other variable compensation payments made in the first quarter.

iHeartMedia has net debt of $5.46 billion but “no material maintenance covenants” and “no material debt maturities prior to 2026” other than the maturity of an asset-backed loan facility in 2023, according to the earnings report.

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