It should come as no surprise to you that the leading radio broadcaster - when it comes to podcasting - is none other than National Public Radio. Let's face it - when it comes to content, they have the best of anything terrestrial out there. But let's also get real about how they've gone well beyond commercial broadcasting when it comes to digital content.
While terrestrial broadcasters and their morning shows argue about whether to make content available online, NPR has offered up its entire programming schedule on its site for several years. You can easily navigate any show, and find archived material available for free. Their search capabilities are strong, too. If you want to find those incredible Bruce Springsteen interviews on "Fresh Air," it's a simple click away.
This strategy has made it easier for NPR listeners and fans to become closer to their programming. Of course, most people still listen in "real time," but if you miss a portion of a feature, or want to go back and listen to it again, NPR.org has it for you. Just as importantly, the site makes it easy for you to find out more information about a story (their web support materials are great), and it's simple to forward items of interest to friends and associates. How many other radio sites can make this claim?
But if you think that NPR doesn't have a financial strategy behind its digital activities, think again. The estimate is that 10% of its revenue are now derived from new media services. NPR's podcasts are sponsored - and their value is skyrocketing. Advertisers like Acura, Honda, and BMW are in line to pay the price to be associated with this up and coming digital content.
And as we learned in Jacobs Media's Tech Poll, listeners are more than willing to put up with a commercial in order to enjoy a free podcast. And of course, advertisers want to be a part of new media from a great brand.
Don't think that NPR just stumbled into this business. They research every angle of what their listeners want, they measure it all against their values, and then go from there. NPR's CEO Ken Stern has a vision for these new media efforts, and his research, sales, and Internet departments support these efforts and initiatives. NPR strategically studies these key issues, assesses them against audience tastes and desires, and goes from there.
There's no reason why commercial radio groups, companies, and stations cannot follow this model. As we've laid out in a three-part series on digital/new media revenue opportunities (available to clients on our site), it takes money to make money. It also takes vision, research, and some smart people in the conference room. Once again, NPR leads the way.
By the way - the latest Buzz From Beasing (from Jacobs Media's Dave Beasing) came out this week, and he touches on this very subject, among many others, all pulled from the today's marketing and pop-culture headlines. A great read you shouldn't miss!