In an average week, 2.4 million people listen to public radio via NPR stations' live digital streams. Even though that number had been growing steadily over the years, it plateaued in 2014-2015, making us all wonder whether big growth in digital listening was only going to be about podcasts from now on.
Not so fast. 2016 has been a great year for NPR station live streams, just as it has been a great year for broadcast, podcasts, NPR.org, and social media. (By the way, we're talking about live streaming that can happen anywhere, including a station's website, NPR.org, third-party apps, etc.)
Streaming cume is up 15% year on year for Q3, the average listener is streaming more, and total listening hours are up 19%. Just as in broadcast growth, some of this is likely the election, and some of it is the result of a lot of hard work in content, programming, and marketing here at NPR and at stations. When we look closer, we find that most of this growth is in news/talk. NPR station news/talk streams are up 24% in total listening hours, while music streams are up just 7%.
The particularly good news is that our news/talk growth is outperforming the competition. The overall category of news/talk streams, which includes hundreds of commercial radio streams, grew 14% in the same timeframe.
Two things are clear from these trends:
- Live streams still matter. There's still a big and growing audience who craves the lean-back broadcast experience on digital platforms.
- Public radio is doing a lot of things right, outpacing the news/talk streaming category as a whole. Here's hoping much of that new audience sticks around for 2017.
To learn more about station streaming growth and other key trends in digital you can watch a recording of the PubMetrics fall 2016 webinar.