Naples-based radio broadcaster Beasley Broadcast Group narrowed its losses in the first quarter.
The company reported a net loss of $3.7 million, or 13 cents a share. That compared to losses of $10.7 million, or 36 cents a share, a year ago.
Net revenues rose 15.6% to $55.7 million in the quarter, up from $48.2 million a year ago.
Revenue came in higher than the company anticipated.
In an earnings call Monday, CEO Caroline Beasley attributed the stronger-than-expected performance to several factors.
“New business initiatives, sports betting and a $2 million year-over-year increase in digital revenue were the primary drivers to the strong quarter,” she said. “These results are beginning to reflect the power of our platform and diversification efforts and are truly a testament to the hardworking team we have.”
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Digital revenue rose 35.5% over the year in the quarter, accounting for 14% of net revenues.
Overall, the company saw revenue increases in 11 of its 14 markets. That included double-digit growth in Boston, Detroit, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Tampa, and Wilmington, North Carolina.
Advertising continues to recover — after taking a huge hit from the pandemic.
In total, company revenues were down by just $2 million, or 3.4%, from the first quarter of 2019 — when the coronavirus wasn’t on the world’s radar — reflecting how far it has come since the peak of the pandemic, Beasley said.
“We are exceeding our goals of growing our total audience, and that is coming from the accelerated growth on our digital platform, where we have doubled and tripled our increases in unique visitors and unique page views since 2019,” she said.
The company is getting closer to its “near-term goal of digital representing 20% of total revenue,” Beasley said.
“We are laser-focused on increasing our digital cash flow with a goal to achieve margins comparable to our over-the-air business,” Beasley said.
Digital impressions — or views — grew by more than 88% over the year and 36% over the quarter.
“This was once again, the biggest quarter ever for digital impressions at Beasley as we continue to monetize our digital content,” she said.
The company also remains “hyper-focused on local revenue,” as national advertising is expected to continue to slowly decline, said Marie Tedesco, chief operating officer, in the earnings call.
“National revenue in the first quarter represented less than 16% of our total revenues,” she said.
National advertising is declining for several reasons, including inflation.
Consumer services remain the largest advertising category for Beasley, accounting for 30% of total revenues in the first quarter, Tedesco said.
Entertainment ranks second. This category grew 48% over the year, representing 16% of total revenues, Tedesco said, with sports betting adding $3.5 million more revenue this year.
Beasley’s operations include a growing Esports division, with its own competitive gaming teams, including the Houston Outlaws, part of the Overwatch League.
At the station level, Beasley saw its operating income increase by $645,000 to $5.9 million in the quarter.
The company still experienced higher operating losses of $2.7 million in the quarter, up from $2.5 million last year. Tedesco attributed the increase to several factors, including the sale of an AM station in Boca Raton on Florida’s east coast and inflation-related wage increases.
Interest expenses also increased by $1.1 million over the year to $6.8 million in the quarter.
Summing up the latest results, Beasley said the company’s radio stations continued to “gain share and audience, driven by the highest quality multi-platform local content in the industry.”
She offered a glimpse into the second quarter, sharing that revenue is pacing up by about 7%, so far.
“Looking ahead to the second quarter and into the back half of 2022, our focus remains on driving further revenue diversification and audience expansion, improving our margins, maintaining a strong and flexible balance sheet, reducing leverage and growing free cash flow,” Beasley said. “Excluding any recession impact, we expect progress on each of these fronts.”
Founded in 1961, Beasley Broadcast owns and operates 61 stations in large- and mid-size markets across the United States. Approximately 20 million consumers listen to the company’s radio stations weekly over the air, online and on smart devices, such as phones and tablets.