Pew Research Center recently published two fact sheets about public broadcasting and local TV news, as part of its State of the News Media report. The Public Broadcasting Fact Sheet analyzed the organizations NPR, American Public Media (APM) and Public Radio International (PRI) to determine their audiences, financial standings and investments standings.
The Local TV News Fact Sheet looked at the same variables for local TV. Pew found that over the past year, public broadcasting has remained financially stable and has seen moderate audience growth. However, local TV generated less revenue in 2017 and saw a decline in audience.
For public broadcasting, Pew reported that the top twenty NPR-affiliated public radio stations had around 11 million total weekly listeners in 2017, a one-million increase from 2016. Looking at NPR programming across all the stations that they carry, they have around 30 million average weekly listeners. PRI, which has programming such as “The World” and “The Takeaway,” has around 9 million listeners and APM, which has programming like “Marketplace,” has 20.5 million average weekly listeners.
Pew also reported how NPR’s digital platforms, including its NPR app (formally the NPR News app) and the NPR One app, are contributing to NPR’s strong reach. The NPR app offers on-demand access to news, streaming for their radio programs and podcasts while the NPR One app offers similar content, including streams of individual shows. On average, NPR has 14.5 million completed sessions by users on iPhone per month. A completed session means any instance when a user starts and stops using the app.
Financially, both NPR and APM saw increases in revenue. Pew found that at a national level, NPR’s total operating revenue increased to $233 million, which is 9% more than in 2016. APM’s total revenue rose to $168 million, which is an increase of 33% from 2016. However, PRI’s revenue decreased 17%, totaling to $18 million in 2017. Data for local public radio shows that revenue has slightly increased, amounting to $829 million in 2016.
Program and production expenses for local public radio stations have increased 7%, amounting to $427 million. Pew reported that an increase in these types of expenditures usually means that stations are directing more funds and resources towards the creation of news content.
Although public broadcasting radio has been performing well, local TV is struggling to catch up to those growth trends. Pew found that in 2017, viewership for network local affiliate news stations like ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC declined in key time spots. These popular time spots are in the morning from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., early evening from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., and late night from 11:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.
In 2017, local TV’s over-the-air advertising revenue totaled around $17.4 billion, which is a 13% decrease from 2016. That being said, revenue for local TV typically and traditionally increases in election years and decreases in non-election years.
Employment for TV newsroom employees, including reporters, editors, photographers and film/video editors, remained stable at around 28,900 total workers for 2017. Additionally, Pew found that the average amount of weekday local TV news programming was steady in 2017. Local stations dedicate an average of 5.6 hours to news programming per weekday.
Looking ahead towards the remainder of 2018, a U.S election year, it will be interesting to see how different types of outlets will garner audience and revenue.