Last night, Cumulus Media, a radio company that carries Rush Limbaugh's show on 38 of its stations, announced millions in losses directly attributable to Limbaugh's show.
From Radio Ink (emphasis mine):
Monday evening Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey said the advertiser boycott cost his company "a couple million" dollars in ad revenue in the first quarter and "a couple million" in the second quarter. He said things look like they will be back to normal in June. Cumulus carries Rush Limbaugh 38 markets and blames 1% of the 3.5% drop in revenue for the quarter on the Rush boycott. Dickey said Cumulus was "hit pretty hard by this."
That said, I want to unpackage this news a bit to: 1) explain how this impacts the marketability of Limbaugh's show; and 2) address Cumulus' remark that business should return to normal in June.
Following a series of increasingly hostile public exchanges between Fox News and Glenn Beck's camp, Beck's "transition" off of Fox was announced on April 6. Fox recently confirmed that Beck's final show will take place on June 30.
Glenn Beck's Fox News exit is the result of a decline in revenue, ratings and relevance.
More than 300 advertisers excluded their ads from Glenn Beck's Fox News program since late July 2009 when he called President Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred for white people." In February 2010, the UK broadcast of Glenn Beck's show began running without any commercials due to advertiser losses abroad.
Subsequent to news of Beck's departure, The New York Times reported that Fox News saw "the refusal of hundreds Fox advertisers" to place ads on Beck as an issue. This issue was recently highlighted when a Fox News spokeswoman, commenting on Fox's decision to preempt Beck's show for a sex scandal special, reportedly quipped that "at least we will be able to sell the special."
A financial analysis of Glenn Beck's advertiser losses illustrates two points:
The number of paid advertisements on Glenn Beck's Fox News show dramatically declined once advertisers began boycotting it in August 2009. Sustained pressure on advertisers ensured that Beck's show never recovered. Consequently, Glenn Beck's show consistently fell short of other comparable Fox News shows as well as shows of direct competitors:
Source: Industry data obtained from CMAG and analyzed by Media Matters.
Further, based on estimated costs from industry experts CMAG, a Media Matters analysis revealed that the same ad from the same advertiser cost substantially less on Glenn Beck than it does on other comparable Fox News shows:
Following a series of increasingly hostile public exchanges, Glenn Beck's "transition" off of Fox News was announced back in April. Fox recently confirmed that Beck's final show will take place on June 30.
More than 300 advertisers excluded their ads from Glenn Beck's Fox News program since late July 2009 when he called President Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred for white people." Subsequent to news of Beck's departure, The New York Times reported that Fox News saw "the refusal of hundreds Fox advertisers" to place ads on Beck as an issue.
This Friday, Fox News is preempting Beck's 5pm show to air a special focused on political sex scandals hosted by Greta Van Susteren. Deadline has more (emphasis added):
The move comes on the day Beck announced the September relaunch of his show on the Web as part of live streaming video network GBTV which will charge viewers monthly subscription as well as seek advertisers. Asked about the timing of Glenn Beck's preemption, Fox News spokeswoman denied any correlation but said, "At least we will be able to sell the special," a reference to the mass exodus of advertisers from Beck's show over his controversial remarks.
For additional information, take a look at this Media Matters report that illustrates the cost of Glenn Beck's advertiser losses.
On June 1, 2011, Fox News released its official iPad application. The application is free for download and is currently financially supported by a sole sponsor, ExxonMobil.
Mashable's Ben Parr, who spoke with Jeremy Steinberg, Fox News VP of digital media ad sales and business development, provides some additional information:
Users will also notice something else about the app: the prominent placement of ExxonMobil advertising throughout the app. Exxon is the exclusive launch partner for Fox News's iPad app. "We decided we wanted to work with one sponsor," Steinberg said, explaining that there are always question marks surrounding a launch, so Fox News wanted a partner comfortable with that. He said Exxon, which is in the midst of a new branding campaign, thought the app was a perfect platform for broadcasting its message.
Given Fox News' long history of deliberately propagating climate science misinformation, it's fitting that Exxon reportedly believes Fox's new app provides a perfect platform for disseminating its message.
On June 14, 2010, Premiere Radio Networks announced that Glenn Beck's radio program "hit a broadcasting milestone of 400 affiliates." Since then, Glenn Beck's website boasts that his show is "heard on over 400 stations:"
Well, it's time for Glenn Beck to update his website and marketing materials.
According to industry data obtained by Media Matters, Glenn Beck's radio program is now short of its heralded "over 400" affiliate status. Asked to comment, Radio Business Reporter's Carl Marucci echoed this finding, stating, "our best gauge right now is also shy of 400." Premiere Radio Networks did not respond to requests for comment.
This should come as no surprise. Since the beginning of 2011, seven radio stations have dropped Glenn Beck's show.
Buckley radio dropped Beck from five of its stations - WOR in New York City and four in Connecticut. Philadelphia's WPHT and Madison's WTDY also replaced Beck. Kansas City's KMBZ moved Glenn Beck from his coveted morning slot to a significantly less desirable late-evening slot.
Further, due to Jewish Funds for Justice's terrific work, five New York City radio stations have already committed to keeping Glenn Beck off the air there.
Forbes contributor Rick Ungar explains the financial significance of Beck losing radio affiliates - especially a NYC station:
While the radio show can survive the loss of the smaller markets in the Buckley group, no radio program can long survive the loss of New York as being shut-out of the nation's largest market makes selling national advertising exceptionally difficult if not completely impossible.
This is particularly true when you add in the loss of affiliates in major markets such as Philadelphia and the show's getting the boot out of the key morning drive slot in Kansas City.
Although much attention has been given to the dramatic decline of Glenn Beck's sponsor-dry Fox News show, this significant drop in radio support reminds us that Beck's decline isn't limited to just television.
The verdict: Glenn Beck is bad for business, whether it be television or radio.
UPDATE: Several outlets have called into question the veracity of the data included in this post. We compiled our information from two separate sources. First, on March 25, Radio Business Report - a radio industry publication - published a report indicating that Beck had fallen below 400 stations. Second, we purchased industry data from PrecisionTrak - considered to be the industry leader in compiling radio station information. An analysis of the PrecisionTrak data corroborated the RBR report. If either RBR or PrecisionTrak update their data, we will change this post accordingly. Additionally, if we receive comment or clarification on our report from Premiere Radio Networks - which we asked for prior to publishing this item - we will update our website.