Magazine article Editor & Publisher

How NPR Lures Younger Digital Audiences: It Creates Multiple Types of Content on Multiple Types of Media on Multiple Types of Platforms

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

How NPR Lures Younger Digital Audiences: It Creates Multiple Types of Content on Multiple Types of Media on Multiple Types of Platforms

Article excerpt

The people who listen to NPR are a lot like those who read newspapers. They tend to be wealthier, better educated and more thoughtful than the population as whole. And, like newspaper readers, they are older than the broader population, too.

But there's one major difference between NPR and most newspapers: The managers at NPR have moved aggressively to create differentiated digital products to attract new, and significantly younger, audiences than their traditional radio listeners. In a moment, we'll take a look at how they did it. First, let's look at how well they did.

While the median age of the NPR radio audience is 49, the median age of its web visitors is 40 and the median age of its podcast users is 36, according to a survey published on its website (http://tinyurl.com/nprdemo). This compares to the national median age of 38.

The age differences across the NPR media result from the fact that each platform attracts its own, distinct following. While 18 percent of web visitors tune in to NPR radio, only 12 percent of radio listeners visit the website, according to the audience survey.

The podcast service, which serves nearly 25 million downloads a month, delivers the added bonus of encouraging two-thirds of its relatively young listeners to listen to radio broadcasts at least once a week. While there's no way of knowing if podcast users will turn into lifelong radioheads, it's better for NPR to have them periodically engaging with the legacy platform than iTuning it out altogether.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Now, let's look at the newspaper industry, where the story is not as bright.

The median age of a typical newspaper print reader is 58 and the average age of a news website reader is 49, says Greg Harmon of Borrell Associates who has surveyed users at scores of newspapers for more than a decade. "These audiences," said Harmon in an interview, "get a year older every year."

Another long-time industry watcher, Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center, reported (http://tinyurl.com/newsdemos) in October that people under the age of 50 spend notably less time perusing the news each day than their elders. After studying news consumption for a decade across every age group, Kohut concluded that individuals ranging in age from 18 to 47 "have so far shown little indication that they will become heavier news consumers as they age."

Facing the same daunting demographic headwinds as newspapers, the management of NPR embarked on a thoughtfully conceived strategy to export their assets and brand to digital platforms to attract different, yet complementary, audiences. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.