Radio sales fall in Q1

The economic downturn hits radio as sales decrease 1.2%.

The failing economy is affecting media, and radio is no exception. Sales took a marginal hit of 1.2% in Q1, according to Canadian Broadcast Sales (CBS), which represents over 60% of private Canadian radio national revenues and is owned by Corus Entertainment and Rogers.

‘The reason is very simple,’ Patrick Grierson, president of CBS, tells MiC. ‘People are troubled by the economy, and they’re not entirely sure what the future holds.’ As a result, advertisers are adopting a ‘wait and see’ attitude. ‘Many advertisers are not booking their entire year as they have done in past years,’ says Grierson. ‘They’re only booking six or four or three months.’

Grierson says Q2 will likely also take a hit, compounded by the fact that December was a short month. ‘This year it’s a four-week month and in one of those weeks there was almost no activity because of Christmas,’ he says, ‘so it virtually became a three-week month versus the five weeks of the year before.’

But despite decreases and spending hesitation, Grierson expects radio to fare well in the coming year compared to other media. ‘It’s easy to gain access to inventory and book and produce campaigns for radio,’ he says. ‘So with ever-shortening lead time and increasing uncertainty, radio may in fact benefit.’

In share of total spend, retail retained the top spot with 18.7%, up 2.7% from last year. Automotive came in second at 12.7% with a strong increase of 23.6%, assisted by the inclusion of the after-market category (tires, batteries, etc.). Financial services and insurance took third with 11.1%, government was fourth with 7.4% and telecommunications was fifth with 7%, down from second place with a 39.4% decrease.

Spending varied across the country with the largest increase in Quebec at 23.1%, picking up from a soft 2007. Alberta and Manitoba also saw increases of 9.1% and 2.6% respectively. The provinces with decreases were Ontario, with -8.5% (reflecting the hit on the manufacturing sector), the Maritimes, with -2.6%, and BC, with -2.5%. Saskatchewan maintained its spending from last year.

The 25 to 54 demo kept its position as most requested, growing to 64.5% from 61.7% the previous year.