This is an exciting and important inflection point in the audio-on-demand evolution. Technology has made it increasingly easier for consumers to listen to podcasts. More great programs launch every day, and sponsorship is among a number of business models, which will continue to fuel increased growth.
Today, Podtrac announced the first podcast industry ranker, and NPR leads the chart as the top publisher of podcasts. This doesn't come as a surprise, but it is a welcome validation. Podcasts are poised for significant growth, and third-party measurement of audience across publishers is a critical step for the medium.
Podcast Industry Audience Ranking (April 2016).
Edison Research estimates that 56 million Americans listen to podcasts every month, and more than 12 percent of them listen to NPR podcasts. Very importantly, those who listen to NPR podcasts are extremely loyal and engaged, and have a positive view of the sponsors that support them. NPR is the leader in podcast sponsorship, and we continue to grow our business by partnering with great brands and their agencies who recognize the quality of our content, the unparalleled engagement of our audience and the positive association they get from aligning with NPR.
NPR was one of the first in the podcasting space, which makes sense given NPR's heritage of great audio journalism and storytelling as well as technology innovation.
Our General Manager Bryan Moffett was on the team that launched NPR into podcasting ten years ago, and is one of the most active and knowledgeable executives in the podcasting space. He and other members of public media have been instrumental in forging measurement standards and best practices for an industry on the verge of explosive growth, but lacking uniformity. In partnership with the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), this group is now working to refine and expand these standards for the entire industry, which will lay a strong foundation for continued growth.
"Podcasting has enjoyed steady audience growth over the past 10 years," Moffett says. "Serial certainly raised the profile of podcasting, but I think the industry is primed for explosive growth. Podtrac's ranker provides one necessary ingredient – a third-party measure of scale. Second, the IAB's Digital Audio Committee is focused on creating standards and awareness for the space. And finally, large platforms like Spotify, Pandora, Google and Audible are embracing podcasting in a significant way, putting content in front of huge audiences. It's a perfect storm and great opportunity for all of public media."
With the arrival of Podtrac's industry ranker, podcasting promises to become an increasingly mainstream medium for sponsorship. For NPR, this means increased revenue potential and the opportunity to launch new content, expand delivery platforms such as NPR One and audience growth. And for sponsors, it's another opportunity to reach NPR's engaged, curious audience.
We're excited to see what's next.
Gina Garrubbo is the CEO of National Public Media (NPR), a subsidiary of NPR that drives corporate sponsorship for NPR, PBS and its station clients.