Is Radio Really Hotter Than Network TV?

Jack Myers

Noted media ecologist Jack Myers has just released some eye-popping forecast data that serves as the hallmark of his “TomorrowToday 2017 Official Marketing/Advertising Spending Forecast.”

How’s this for a key takeway: Terrestrial radio’s growth rate will be higher than that for broadcast television networks — albeit slightly.

Still, it could be emblematic of a long-term trend that radio industry C-Suite professionals should give serious consideration to: Radio is in a much better predicament to retain a dollar drain to digital than any nationally distributed television network.

In fact, it’s not a good time to be an account executive at a cable television network, given the significantly slower growth between 2016 and 2020 in this sector, compared to AM and FM radio.

To be clear, it is “Broadcast Network TV” and “Cable/Satellite Network Television” — in addition to “Local/Regional Cable TV” and “Local & National Spot Broadcast TV” — are each seeing lower percentage growth between 2016 and 2020 than “Terrestrial Radio.”

In fact, Myers forecasts a 7.8% drop in ad growth for local and national spot broadcast television — something that broadcast TV owners who didn’t get a huge payout from the FCC’s Reverse Auction may not like to read.

But, the total dollars still show Terrestrial Radio well behind four of the five above-mentioned categories come 2020, local/regional cable television.

That’s why Myers remains hot on television, noting that broadcast network television ad spending is forecast to increase 12%, while and cable network TV will still grow by 9.3% between 2016 and 2020.

Terrestrial Radio is forecast to grow at 12.3%.

So, what explains Myers’ positive thoughts for the television sector?

The TV business will be the beneficiary of growth from $624 million in 2016 to a projected 2020 total of $7.7 billion in interactive/addressable/VOD television advertising investments.

This is enormous, and gives TV a big safety net — even though AM and FM may have it a bit easier in a few years with respect to getting a run-of-schedule or product integration deal signed with a client.


Many media observers may assume that the greatest percentage decline in annual advertiser investments between 2016 and 2020 will involve the eroding newspaper, magazine or Yellow Pages business.

While Yellow Pages ad dollars are forecast by MyersBizNet to decline another 12.5%, to $4.8 billion, and newspapers are expected to decline only 2.9% to just under $20 billion in 2020, consumer magazines will actually increase their share of advertiser budgets, with projected growth of 2.8% between 2016 and 2020.

“Here’s the surprise: the greatest decline in annual advertiser investments will be in a digital media category,” Myers said. “Online originated desktop display (banner) advertising is forecast to decline 32.6%, from $6.8 billion in 2016 to $4.6 billion in 2020.”

Of course, digital spending overall is continuing to grow as marketers shift below-the-line budgets to social, search, video and mobile advertising.

“Among digital media, online originated video content advertising is forecast to experience the greatest growth, from $4.8 billion in 2016 to $11.8 billion in 2020 (147.5%),” Myers said. “Social marketing is projected by MyersBizNet to increase 138%; Mobile/apps advertising by 123% and search marketing (desktop and mobile) by 70%.”