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NPR Relies on Podcasting for Growth

Listening habits shift for pubcasters too

Public-radio broadcasters find themselves buffeted by some of the same winds that commercial broadcasters receive. One of those is a change in the media consumption habits of listeners. The recent Pew Research Center’s “State of the News Media 2015” report lays this out.

On a monthly average, downloads for podcasts from NPR have gone up 41%. As a result, the revenue generated from podcasts doubled from 2013 to 2014, according to NPR, and five months in to 2015 it has already surpassed that of 2014. NPR’s total revenue also rose, in large part due to the success of podcasting.

While revenue may be up, weekly listeners to NPR is actually down. The broadcaster took a 4% drop in listeners from 27.3 million/week to 26.2 million/week. The number of NPR’s member organizations decreased for the second straight year as well, from 269 to 263. There was however, an 11% growth in associate and full membership stations.

Listeners may be going away from listening to public broadcasters on the radio, but they still seek it out, just in a new way. NPR’s digital presence has grown over multiple platforms, including website traffic, apps and online streaming. Monthly unique visitors to have gone up 35% to 28 million, and that is not including apps or other digital listening options.

However, other public broadcasters are struggling to keep up with NPR and its digital audience, not to mention commercial stations. PBS’ “NewsHour” drew in 3.9 million unique online visitors in Jan. 2015; NBC News had 56 million, CBS News 47 million, and ABC/Yahoo brought in 65 million unique visitors that same month, according to comScore. Other public broadcasters didn’t fare so well either.’s total digital population in Jan. 2015 was 869,000, while American Public Media Marketplace managed 506,000.

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