The Canadian Radio Business: Still Pretty Damn Healthy, But…

The CRTC published their annual look at the Canadian radio industry this week.  (Souce:  Globe and Mail.) Here are some takeaways:

1.  There are 675 commercial stations in the country, 546 FM and 129 AM.

2.  Eleven new FMs signed on last year.  The number of AMs continues to fall (down five) with many of them finding ways to flip to FM. 

3.  Collectively, the industry saw revenues of $1.62 billion with profits of $323 million, up 4% from the previous year.  FMs pulled in $1.31 billion (up slightly from last year) while the AMs earned $306 million (down 1.6%).

4.  In 2012, 10,050 were employed in the business.  They were paid a total of $681 million, which represents 54% of total expenses (up from 52% in 2008).

5.  The average salary in the Canadian radio business is $67,759.

6.  Montreal has the highest average salary ($104,000) followed by Calgary ($91,000), Ottawa ($80,000) and Toronto ($72,000).  Keep in mind that these averages are grossly distorted by radio stars who earn salaries and bonuses in the high six figures–and even a few who earn more than a million a year.  It also includes the salaries of general managers and star sales people.

6.  Syndication is suffering as the big companies continue to share programming internally instead of buying outside material.  The syndication market in Canada is now worth about $3.8 million, which is down 34% from last year and 55% from 2008.  (Not good for a guy like me who earns part of his living from syndicating a radio show.)

7.  The bulk of ad revenues–$1.13 billion–come from local as opposed to national sales.

That being said, take a look at this new survey released today by Ernest and Young. It says that digital media companies’ revenue will be great than than of traditional media outlets by 2015.  In other words, the radio industry should use this time to get ready for what’s coming next.

And then there’s this new announcement from Ford about a new partnership with SiriusXM:

Ford Motor Co. is the first automaker to offer in-vehicle access to the SiriusXM Internet Radio App, the companies announced today.

With the Internet Radio App, drivers of Sync AppLink-equipped vehicles will have access to MySXM and SiriusXM On Demand alongside satellite radio. Drivers can control the Internet Radio App through voice commands, the steering wheel or radio controls.

Yep.  That’s the sort of direction in which we’re headed.

Then there’s this from the Globe and Mail the Drive section today.  It’s a story entitled “Taking Connectivity on the Road.”  It talks about what to look for in a connected car.

Horsepower? Who cares? Fuel economy? A trifling. Crash test scores? So ho-hum. Resale value? Yesterday’s news. Reliability, durability? A sideshow. But connectivity?

“The introduction of the Model T by Henry Ford in 1908 was a moment that transformed transportation. Today, we are at the beginning of the next big automotive revolution – the connected car,” says Peggy Smedley, editorial director, Connected World magazine.

Smedley, in fact, says the chassis of the future is not all about suspension tuning and ride quality. Nope. The “chassis on which the [auto] industry as a whole drives into the future” is the ability of car companies to harness data using “the power of connectivity.”

Oh, my. And here I’d thought for all these years that cars were about driving first, text messages, satellite radio, voice-activated navigation system and the like, second. I am apparently wrong. The experts say so. Experts who specialize in Facebook, Twitter and so on have set their sights on the 21st century automobile. Connected World is among them.

And finally, Mercedes-Benz has announced plans to launch car-to-car connectivity which has the potential to disrupt ever single radio-delivered traffic report forever.  Read about that here.

Like I’ve been preaching, the connected car will have massive implications on driver behavior when it comes to the way they engage with media in the car–and that includes radio.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

2 thoughts on “The Canadian Radio Business: Still Pretty Damn Healthy, But…

  • June 20, 2013 at 4:55 pm
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    I'm surprised that there are any million dollar+ radio stars in Canada. We don't seem to have any nationally (for English Canada at least) carried morning shows. The Larger cities are fractured with having multiple stations. Those few syndicated programs, such as yours, get loosely scheduled during non-peak hours.

    Reply
  • June 20, 2013 at 5:06 pm
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    There definitely are some million-plus people–I can think of three in Toronto alone–but I have a feeling they're the last of their kind.

    Reply

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