This headline stopped me cold the other day, but in the go-go tech economy, maybe it shouldn't have:
Tesla is now worth more than Ford & GM – combined
That's correct. A story in Ars Technica by Timothy B. Lee confirmed Tesla now has a net worth of $93 billion – more than GM ($50B) and Ford ($37B) put together.
That may seem counter-intuitive or even unfathomable for an automaker that's sold only a fraction of the vehicles that Detroit's Big Two has put on the road over the past 100 years. Not to mention Tesla's roller coaster ride of events that always make the news.
But it's a fact, at least in the eyes of the financial community.
And that's why a recent story in Digital Music News jumped off the screen at me. An analysis by Kevin Rouke attempted to compare net revenue of a number of key tech brands – including Tesla.
Once again, Elon Musk's amazing company is in the pole position with 2018 revenue of nearly $25 billion. The other media/tech brands included on his chart (and it may be a case of apples and grapefruits) pale in comparison – even Netflix.
And his point is summed up in the title of the story, written by Colin Cohen:
Apple Makes More Money From AirPods Than Spotify Makes From Its Entire Business
And AirPods are hot – experiencing what venture capitalists refer “hockey stick growth” these past couple years.
And that's when I started thinking about how broadcast radio continues to be undervalued and overlooked amidst the glow and glory of these tech brands.
So, I took BIA's estimated revenue for 2018 for AM/FM radio (in the U.S.) only – and made one addition: U.S. broadcast radio revenue.
This chart might surprise even more financial analysts than Rouke's version, not to mention media buyers. And that's because radio seems to always get the short end of the stick in virtually any conversation about media, entertainment, technology, and financial performance.
So, I was pleased to read the recent on-air comments attributed to Howard Stern in a passionate, rational defense of “radio” (he did not make the distinction between satellite and terrestrial), instead keeping his observations centered on the entire medium. His point was how the Golden Globes celebrate seemingly every nook and cranny of the entertainment industry.
Except for radio.
According to a story in Radar Online, Stern questioned why radio continues to be left on the outside when it comes up in so many media discussions. Here's how they quoted his conversation with Robin Quivers about the Golden Globes on Monday's show:
Howard: “Why can't they give out a couple of radio awards? Why is radio not entertainment?”
Robin: “It is entertainment. It is the forgotten, important medium.
Howard: “Like radio has big reach, millions of people listen to it. It's a lot bigger audiences that films do. So, every once in a while, why don't they have a radio category as opposed to a radio hall of fame where we are ostracized into some lame event?”
Radio awards in the Golden Globes? Indeed.
This, from a radio star who has excelled in the TV, motion picture, and publishing industries. And yet, his core is in radio, regardless of whether it is beamed down from a satellite or broadcast over the airwaves.
And in the rant, Stern referred to broadcast radio stars, like Rush Limbaugh, who would be deserving of recognition by the show business community.
Like all traditional media, broadcast radio has suffered its shares of bumps and bruises as a result of digital media disruption.
On a day like today, most of the radio buzz will be centered on iHeartMedia's full-scale restructuring announcement, truly a tough day for the medium and seemingly, hundreds of industry pros in markets big and small.
But whether it's audience size, revenue, or profits, the broadcast radio story continues to be both compelling and impressive for a medium that has enjoyed more years in business than Netflix, Twitter, Spotify, Uber, Square, and Shopify – combined.
Still, Howard Stern ought to be careful what he wishes for. An award on the Golden Gloves could produce the unintended consequence of Ricky Gervais filleting radio in front of a worldwide audience.
Still, I'm confident radio could take that punch.
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