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June 7, 2018, 12:03 p.m.
Mobile & Apps
LINK: www.pewresearch.org  ➚   |   Posted by: Marlee Baldridge   |   June 7, 2018

It was barely a year ago that PBS and NPR fans were worried about whether American public broadcasting might be about to disappear. President Trump’s initial budget called for eliminating all funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the backbone of the system.

But that budget threat turned out to be just that — CPB got its money. And according to this year’s State of the Media Report update from Pew, American public broadcasting is…actually doing pretty okay.

In public radio, the average weekly broadcast audiences of the top 20 NPR member stations continue to grow — from 8.7 million in 2015 to 11.2 million last year.

NPR’s mobile strategy seems to be working too: It’s seen monthly sessions in the NPR News and NPR One apps (which launched in 2014) spike over the past two years. The NPR News app saw on average more than 14 million sessions a month last year.

Another nugget of good news: Funding for public radio stations is up slightly (at least in 2016, the last year data is available), with increases in both individual gift giving and underwriting. Membership levels at news-oriented stations are also up, if only slightly.

On the TV side, Pew offers less data but did note that the PBS NewsHour grew its audience about 17 percent from 2016 to 2017.

Pew also released an updated state-of-the-union for digital news Wednesday. To no one’s surprise, mobile ad revenue (including on non-news websites) continues to soar, rising from about $46 billion to $61 billion last year. Mobile ad revenue is now double desktop ad revenue in the U.S.

Pew data found that 45 percent of news consumers get their news via mobile device “often,” with another 29 percent doing so “sometimes.” Meanwhile, only 35 percent of news consumers “often” got their news from desktop, 30 percent “sometimes.” That’s intuitive, as mobile is much easier to access on a more frequent basis, on the bus, at lunch, or in the bathroom.

Meanwhile, for the largest digital-native outlets, average monthly unique visitors to their websites actually dropped a bit in 2017 — more evidence of consumer shifts toward distributed content and alternative platforms.

For more detail into the numbers, read the digital news report here and the public broadcasting report here.

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