A report from Current surfaced last week that NPR is projecting its podcast revenue to surpass its radio broadcast revenue for the first time next year. The information in the report comes from NPR’s membership meeting that was held on September 5th, where NPR CFO, Deborah Cowan, announced that corporate sponsorships for podcasts would grow to $55 million next year. If projections are met, both broadcast and podcast revenue would combine to $114.5 million, which would double NPR’s sponsorship revenue from just three years ago.
If you recall, NPR helped to really drive the initial boom of podcasting with one of the first mainstream podcast hits, Serial. In addition to Serial, NPR tends to rank highly in the podcast charts a multitude of categories with shows like Planet Money, How I Built This, Fresh Air, and This American Life. NPR has rather brilliantly augmented itself with a whole array of on-demand podcasts, comprised of a mix of new shows specifically made to be podcasts, or its popular broadcast shows that have been converted into on-demand podcasts.
NPR’s ability to cater to traditional methods of consumption, while re-investing its profits into new ways to consume its content is starting to show, beyond just the increasing podcasting revenue. I recently wrote about NPR’s process of making its Morning Edition segment available to Alexa users, and feed the local broadcast to the user based on their location. The project lead who detailed the process in a medium post, really helped to illustrate how forward thinking NPR is about pushing the boundaries with how listeners are able to access the content. It’s impressive stuff.
In that same update, I wrote about how NPR might be in a great position to follow in the BBC’s footsteps in launching its own “mini-assistant.” The idea goes that if an entity hosts a certain level of content, it might make more sense to go the way of a mini-assistant, which would be a home for multiple skills. In that scenario, NPR would be able to use its assistant to be the master of its domain and more intelligently and accurately connect listeners with the type of content that it’s looking for, just as the BBC will be attempting to do with, “Beeb.”
With it becoming apparent that NPR’s podcasting business is booming and eclipsing traditional revenue, it will be interesting to see how heavily it pushes the boundaries on its content distribution and facilitation to greater increase its on-demand listenership and continue growing podcast revenue. Might we see NPR take its podcasting ambitions a step further and launch its own mini-assistant to house its content, serve as the operator to redirect listeners to what they’re looking for, and interface with master assistants like Alexa and Google assistant in the background? We shall see, but there’s a growing financial incentive to doing just that.
-Thanks for Reading-