Canadian radio sales are growing; but economy is softening Q1 ’09

Q4 delivers 9.2% annual growth, while U.S. numbers indicate a decline.

National radio sales were driven up a jolly old 9.2% for the 2008 broadcast year, with the 25-54 demo showing the biggest growth in share spend. The increase, reported by Canadian Broadcast Sales (CBS), points to a strong Q4 year-over-year increase (10.65%).

‘It was a very good year for Canadian radio, especially when contrasted with the United States, which was hit with an 8% decrease in the first six months of 2008,’ reports Pat Grierson, president, CBS. ‘Retail was again the largest category, up 13.4% over 2007.’

While automotive was down 1.3% for 2008, financial services & insurance and restaurants were up 17% and 28.1% respectively.

Year-over-year Q4 highlights included increases in retail by 48%, restaurants by 49%, financial services by 44%, automotive by 16%, lotteries & gaming by 57% and government by 31%.

While telecommunications spending fell by 45%, Grierson says he expects activity in this sector to increase significantly as new wireless competitor offerings come to market.

The 25-54 age group was the most requested demo in 2008, accounting for 61.7% of the radio spend. That number, Grierson notes, exceeds 80% when sub-demos are combined with gender, because of the flexibility it offers advertisers.

Q1 bookings for 2009 already indicate softening due to the current economic uncertainty, but Grierson expects ‘normal activities to resume when the situation stabilizes, given radio’s strength in meeting immediate needs for advertisers. We are concerned, but we are still bullish, because we know from the last downturn in 2001 that we were quick to recover in less than two quarters.’

In 2008 spending by province, Saskatchewan led the way with a 20.8% increase in national radio revenues, followed by Alberta at 16.7%, Manitoba at 15.7%, Ontario at 11.2%, Quebec at 4.1% and British Columbia at 1.5%. The Atlantic provinces were down by 2.4%.