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Radio Revenues Fell to $9.7B in 2020, As Pandemic’s Toll on the Industry Affected Local Radio Stations

May 14, 2021

Online Advertising Distinguishes Itself and Will Continue to Rise; Station Sales Contrast Sharply from a Decade Ago 

Chantilly, VA (May 14, 2021) As anticipated, the radio industry took a very big hit in 2020 due to the pandemic and subsequent cutbacks in overall spending activity. According to the first quarter edition of BIA Advisory Services’ 2021 Investing In Radio® Market Report over-the-air advertising revenues dropped to $9.7 billion, a -23.6 percent decline from $12.8 billion in 2019. Digital ad revenues at stations demonstrated their continued strength, though, posting only a slight decline to $939 million in revenues in 2020 versus $1 billion in 2019.  

“Local radio stations have been feeling the impact of new competition for the past few years; unfortunately, the pandemic just exacerbated the problem and it will take some time to recover,” said Mark Fratrik, SVP and Chief Economist, BIA Advisory Services. “The shining star continues to be radio’s online digital advertising revenues, which will outpace over-the-air growth this year and moving forward. Those broadcasting groups that have invested-in and oriented their companies toward digital will benefit faster from that foresight.” 

Fratrik forecasts 2021 total local radio revenues to reach $11.7 billion, with $1 billion coming directly from online revenues; a 9.7 percent increase over 2020.  

Radio Station Revenue 2016-2022

Transactions Down 

Investing In Radio® Market Report also covers radio station sales transactions and comparisons year-over-year. Mirroring the economic climate in 2020, radio station sales fell to levels that hadn’t been seen in years. Only 534 stations were sold in 2020 for an estimated value of $139 million – a stark contrast from the 1,080 sold in 2011 for $1.1 billion. 

Radio Station Transactions May 2021

Investing In® Radio Publications 

The 2021 first-quarter edition of Investing In Radio® Market Report provides a complete profile of every Nielsen Audio market, with historic and projected demographic and financial statistics. It is available for purchase online. The report can be purchased hereInformation in the Investing In Radio books is also available in Media Access Pro™, a data and analytical service that delivers comprehensive information on the radio, television and newspaper industries. 

Also available is the Investing In Radio® 2020 Ownership Report that delivers a detailed analysis and guide of all owners in the Nielsen Audio rated markets and non-rated markets. The report can be purchased here. 

More BIA Forecasts 

BIA’s full U.S local advertising forecasts for top media are available in BIA ADVantage, which provides online access to all of the firm’s forecasts including those contained in the Investing In Radio publication, offering subscribers a direct view of national and their local market ad spending. For more details, email 

About BIA Advisory Services 

BIA Advisory Services is the leading authority for data-centered insights, analysis, strategic consulting, and valuation services for the local media industry. Since 1983, BIA has been a valuable resource for traditional and digital media companies, brands and agencies, the financial and legal community serving media and telecom, as well as the FCC and other government agencies. Today, we offer comprehensive local market advertising intelligence in our BIA ADVantageTM service to help clients discover the path to their best opportunities. Learn more about our offerings at

Media Contacts:
MacKenzie Lovings
(703) 802-2991 

Robert Udowitz
(703) 621-8060