The major group radio owners with 20% of their holdings in the country format will be most profitable five years from now.
Three reasons: 1) I think regional market dominance and format diversity, primarily focused 18-49 and 25-54, wins; 2) I'm bullish on country over both the medium and long-term. The music right now is simply terrific; and 3) you can't look at a top five ranker 25-54 in most markets and not see at least one country station. And, that's how it will be for at least the next decade, I'd bet.
18 to 54 dominance will be radio's key to growing our share of media revenue in the immediate future. Newspapers have a weak readership story under age 40. We must got to stop selling against each other and focus on the huge piece of pie that print media hold. 2011's round of consolidation will hasten this development if we're smart. Our results outstrip print every time. Ad revenues will still be an 18-49 and 25-54 ball game for the foreseeable future. And, since 55-64 is such a large chunk of population, it also must be included and country is even stronger in those upper demos.
Radio groups with single digit country holdings outside of the top five, highly ethnic, metro markets had better know how to tell the 18-34 story!
Only reason I can think of NOT to invest in the growth of, buy and hold, country stations: it's definitely NOT a quick-turnaround format. But, it is loyalty, which continues very strong -- which most other formats lack and media buyers are looking for. That makes country a wonderful long-term investment well into the 21st century!
The demos that make that reality - 25-44 - are already heavily listening to country today in all but the most ethnically-diverse metro markets.
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