Clear Channel exceeds guidance thanks to ‘exceptional’ growth in airports

Clear Channel exceeds guidance thanks to ‘exceptional’ growth in airports
Clear Channel's Storm Cromination site in London

Clear Channel exceeded its guidance with a reported $623m in consolidated revenue in Q4 2023 — a 10.8% increase year on year.

Scott Wells, Clear Channel’s CEO, said the results reflected “a strong performance”, particularly the company’s airports segment, Europe-North region and “improving business trends” in the US, which is returning to growth.

Airports had “a record fourth quarter” and “an exceptional year after a slow start”, up 44.3% year on year to $111m in the last three months of the year. Within this, digital revenue was up 57.9% to $73m.

Wells said growth was primarily driven by investments in digital at New York airports. He added that this correlated to “strong air travel” and a market trend towards high-quality and well-defined audience delivery.

It was “not just the large advertisers” going for airport inventory, Wells stressed, but also local teams working with roadside departments to cross-sell and innovate on “sponsorship”-style packages.

Europe-North — comprising the UK, the Nordics and several other countries in northern and central Europe — increased Q4 revenue to $192m (up 13.4%) and saw growth across all products and countries. Wells called out the UK and Belgium, thanks to increased demand, additional digital displays and strong programmatic growth.

Meanwhile, Wells highlighted a theme for US clients in 2023 was “delayed decision-making” as they waited for signs of clarity on the direction of the economy. This was combined with “softness” in certain areas, including the San Francisco Bay Area and the media, entertainment, technology and automotive sectors.

However, while there has been “some level of uncertainty in the market”, he noted improving trends across key verticals and markets, as “advertisers are becoming more comfortable in making decisions”.

US focus

Wells reaffirmed Clear Channel’s intention to become “a more focused, US-centric business”, following sales of its Europe-South business last year and it is “committed” to sell the Europe-North and LatAm segments.

Wells said: “On the M&A front, we’re continuing with the sales process of our businesses in Europe-North segment and we have commenced the process to sell our businesses in Latin America, as well as evaluating related paths to optimise our cost structure.

“The goal is to streamline our organisation to focus on our US markets, further strengthen the operating leverage in our business and improve cash flow.”

Wells added that Europe-North’s “strengthened financial performance” puts Clear Channel in “a position of strength from which to work” and said further updates will be provided.

Will Justin Cochrane be Clear Channel’s last UK and Europe CEO?

Looking ahead

Among some of the focuses going forward were delivering profitable growth, strengthening its balance sheet and reducing leverage, or its $5.63bn company debt.

Wells revealed that Q1 was already “off to a good start”, with Clear Channel’s businesses growing.

Clear Channel offered guidance for consolidated revenue of $465-490m in Q1 and $2.20-2.26bn for the full year. This would represent growth of 6-12% in Q1 and 3- 6% in 2024.

By segment, in Q1, guidance for the US is $245-255m (growth of 4-8%), airports $74-79m (up 4-8%) and Europe-North $130-140m (up 1-9%).

For the full year, forecasts are $1.14-1.16bn (3-6% growth) in the US, $345-360m (up 11-16%) for airports and $635-655m (up 2-6%) in Europe-North.

Wells added: “We remain focused on delivering on our strategic roadmap, which is aimed at enhancing the profitability of our business, focusing on our higher-margins US markets and transforming into a technology-fuelled visual media powerhouse reaching a growing audience.

“Delivering a digital media experience remains central to our investment strategy, both in terms of expanding our footprint in the US and strengthening our ability to serve a greater range of advertisers and drive revenue growth.

“We’re progressing in delivering the kind of experience advertisers expect from digital media, coupled with the mass reach and creative impact of out-of-home.”

Adwanted UK is the trusted delivery partner for three essential services which deliver accountability, standardisation, and audience data for the out-of-home industry. Playout is Outsmart’s new system to centralise and standardise playout reporting data across all outdoor media owners in the UK. SPACE is the industry’s comprehensive inventory database delivered through a collaboration between IPAO and Outsmart. The RouteAPI is a SaaS solution which delivers the ooh industry’s audience data quickly and simply into clients’ systems. Contact us for more information on SPACE, J-ET, Audiotrack or our data engines.

Media Jobs