Friday, June 5, 2015

PRX HAS CHANGED THE MODEL FOR NONCOM SYNDICATION



Earlier this week New York Public Radio – WNYC – announced that two of its national programs are leaving NPR distribution. According to WNYC sources, Radiolab and On the Media will “self distribute” as of October 1, 2015. People are speculating that the programs are moving to PRX.  This makes sense to me.

PRX had no comment.

[DISCLOSURE: My company, Ken Mills Agency, LLC, represents American Routes, which is distributed by PRX. In the past I have been a paid consultant for PRX.]

HOW THE PUBLIC RADIO NETWORKS MAKE MONEY

Pubic radio has three networks: NPR, American Public Media (“APM”) and Public Radio International (“PRI”).

Member stations own and govern NPR. Stations pay lots of money for membership and even more for programs like Morning Edition and ATC.  NPR also distributes programs owned by others including Car Talk, Wait, Wait and Latino USA. Typically stations must be members in order to access/buy programming from NPR.

APM and PRI use the Country Club Model.  Stations must pay a fee to become affiliates.  Affiliation fees are determined by the size of the market and Total Station Revenue (“TSR”), as reported to CPB.  The fee is a cover charge that gives stations access to the network’s programming.  After becoming affiliates, stations pay carriage fees for the programs they carry. With a handful of exceptions, only affiliates can air APM and PRI programs.

This business model has worked very, very well for APM and PRI.  Both networks use the revenue from affiliation fees to pay for their daily operations.  APM and PRI also receive a portion of carriage fees paid by stations. This percentage comes out of producer’s pocket and can vary from 10% to 40% depending on the program.

STATIONS DISLIKE THE NETWORK “TAX” ON PROGRAMMING

Over the years I have heard from station folks complaining that APM and PRI affiliation fees offer no benefit to stations.  The perception is that affiliation fees are used to pay comfy salaries to network executives etc. But, the stations keep paying the fees because it is the only way they can get programs that are valued by listeners.

The networks do offer advantages to stations and producers: 

Stations like one stop shopping and quick access to support services from the networks.  Though they say they don’t do it, all three networks sometimes bundle programs to save the stations some money.

Producers like the convenience the networks provide. The networks bill and collect carriage fees, market programs and often help with Content Depot expenses.  Some producers feel there is value to being associated with a network.  But, the network halo doesn’t seem to be as bright anymore.

ENTER PRX

PRX became a for-real national program distributor in the late 2000s. Now they distribute This American Life, The Moth, Reveal, Sound Opinions, American Routes [my client] and many, many more.  They sponsor a number of creative initiatives.  Unlike NPR, APM and PRI, PRX can make quick decisions and react to market trends as they happen.

Stations like PRX because it is cheap and easy – almost any noncommercial station can join and participate.  PRX’s SubAuto system – the method of delivering programming to stations – works well according to users.

Producers like PRX because SubAuto provides optional automated carriage fee billing and payment. PRX now provides marketing services for certain programs.  PRX doesn’t intrude into producers editorial and creative process. 

Perhaps the most important reason stations and producers like PRX is the LACK OF NETWORK POLITICS.  PRX plays well with everyone.  The only people who seem to dislike PRX are at organizations that compete with PRX.

THIS AMERICAN LIFE SHOWS ONE OF PRX’s BIGGEST ADVANTAGES

MORE MONEY GOES TO THE PRODUCERS.  PRX typically retains a much smaller percentage of the carriage fees paid by stations. Here is a hypothetical and illustrative scenario that is solely my creation and is NOT based on info from PRX:

Lets say a certain program brings in $2,000,000 of station carriage fees.   Say the network takes 25% of the revenue and pays the remainder to the producer.  The network pockets $500,000.

The program’s producer moves distribution to PRX. Hypothetically, PRX takes only 10% of the fee revenue: $200,000. $300,000 moves immediately to the producer’s bottom line.  Sweet deal.

Plus, the programming is available to more stations.  PRX’s inexpensive affiliation fee means a larger universe of stations.

Will Radiolab and On the Media move to PRX? They might but even if they don’t the new distribution template will be The PRX Model.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

NONCOM FORMAT LISTENING TRENDS: NPR NEWS STATIONS UP; CLASSICAL & TRIPLE A DOWN


We have created a format index to measure listening changes for the five major noncommercial radio formats: NPR News, Triple A, Classical, Jazz and Contemporary Christian Music (“CCM”).

The methodology is pretty simple.  We track listening as reported in Nielsen Audio PPM topline reports.  The stations included in each format group are full-time in their formats, are considered solid performers and represent different regions of the country.

We add the Weekly Cumulative Listeners for each format group and compare the results over time. Our index does NOT include all listening to stations with a particular format. Keep in mind that radio listening is declining one to two percent per year.  But, weekly listening to radio, as measured by Nielsen Audio, still tops 90% of the nation’s adults.

TRENDS APRIL 2014 – APRIL 2015

[Scroll down to see the charts for each format group.]

• NPR NEWS STATIONS had the biggest gain in weekly listeners over the past year.  Five of the ten stations increased their weekly listeners; five declined in listeners. Impressive gains by WBEZ and two APM stations – KPCC, LA & KNOW, Minneapolis – led the way.

We can only access topline Nielsen data, so the impact of NPR’s Spark initiative is not known.

• TRIPLE A STATIONS lost around 5% of their weekly listeners between 2014 and 2015.  WFUV lost the most; The Current [KCMP] gained the most.  Six of the 10 stations in the index lost listeners.

• CLASSICAL STATIONS lost almost 4% of their weekly listeners.  Eight of the ten stations in the Classical index declined from 2014 to 2015. WQXR, New York, lost 26% of its weekly listeners in a year. Does anyone have insight about WQXR’s decline?

• JAZZ STATIONS in the index gained slightly despite a big decline at KKJZ, Los Angeles.

CCM STATIONS lost the most weekly listeners, declining almost 8% from 2014 to 2015.  Eight of the ten stations in the index lost listeners led by format mainstay KTIS, Minneapolis.

FORMAT CHARTS

GREEN = BIGGEST GAINS IN LISTENERS
RED = BIGGEST DECLINES IN LISTENERS

NPR NEWS STATIONS

STATION
NIELSEN AUDIO MARKET
METRO RANK
APRIL
 2014
WEEKLY CUME
APRIL
 2015
WEEKLY CUME
ONE YEAR TREND
KUT
Austin
35
176,300
196,300
+ 20,000
WFAE
Charlotte
24
196,900
162,900
- 34,000
WBEZ
Chicago
3
467,400
562,600
+ 95,200
KPCC
Los Angeles
2
665,000
723,600
+58,600
KNOW
Minneapolis/St. Paul
16
313,000
357,700
+ 44,700
WNYC-FM
New York
1
731,300
687,700
- 43,600
WHYY
Philadelphia
8
338,400
370,200
+ 31,800
KOPB
Portland
23
328,700
284,500
- 44,200
KUOW
Seattle/Tacoma
13
295,000
336,100
+ 41,100
WAMU
Washington, DC
7
667,500
592,600
- 74,900



4,176,800
4,274,200
+ 97,400
+ 2.4%

TRIPLE A STATIONS

STATION
NIELSEN AUDIO MARKET
METRO RANK
APRIL
 2014
WEEKLY CUME
APRIL
 2015
WEEKLY CUME
ONE YEAR TREND
KUTX
Austin
35
96,800
90,700
- 6,100
WTMD
Baltimore
21
73,800
67,100
- 6,600
WNKU
Cincinnati
30
66,600
64,400
- 2,200
KKXT
Dallas
5
283,700
294,800
+ 11,100
WYMS
Milwaukee/Racine
34
70,900
65,600
- 5,300
KCMP
Minneapolis/St. Paul
16
278,600
297,300
+ 18,700
WFUV
New York
1
444,600
342,600
- 104,000
WXPN
Philadelphia
8
247,900
261,300
+ 15,200
WYEP
Pittsburgh
25
99,100
94,900
- 4,200
KEXP
Seattle/Tacoma
13
158,500
159,000
+ 2,500



1,829,500
1,737,700
- 91,800
- 5.3%

CLASSICAL STATIONS

STATION
NIELSEN AUDIO MARKET
METRO RANK
APRIL
 2014
WEEKLY CUME
APRIL
 2015
WEEKLY CUME
ONE YEAR TREND
KMFA
Austin
35
107,000
81,300
- 25,700
WCRB
Boston
10
174,200
225,500
+ 51,300
WDAV
Charlotte
24
132,400
91,400
- 40,000
KUSC
Los Angeles
2
788,700
740,900
- 48,200
KSJN
Minneapolis/St. Paul
16
188,900
180,400
- 8,500
WQXR
New York
1
678,400
502,100
- 176,300
KQAC
Portland
23
140,900
186,700
+ 45,800
KDFC
San Francisco
4
321,000
279,700
- 41,300
KING
Seattle/Tacoma
13
342,900
301,900
- 41,000
WETA
Washington, DC
7
421,500
401,700
- 19,800



3,101,700
2,991,600
- 110,100
- 3.7%

JAZZ STATIONS

STATION
NIELSEN AUDIO MARKET
METRO RANK
APRIL
 2014
WEEKLY CUME
APRIL
 2015
WEEKLY CUME
ONE YEAR TREND
WCLK
Atlanta
9
159,600
193,800
+ 34,200
KUVO
Denver
20
69,700
122,200
+ 52,500
KUNV
Las Vegas
32
46,400
59,500
+ 13,100
KKJZ
Los Angeles
2
448,400
392,300
- 56,100
KBEM
Minneapolis/St. Paul
16
80,400
54,800
- 25,600
WBGO
New York
1
333,000
317,400
- 15,600
WHOV
Norfolk
43
80,300
93,000
+ 12,700
WUCF
Orlando
33
86,800
69,900
- 16,900
KMHD
Portland
23
112,400
128,500
+ 16,100
KSDS
San Diego
17
56,700
55,300
- 1,400



1,473,700
1,486,700
+ 13,000
+ 0.9%

CCM STATIONS

STATION
NIELSEN AUDIO MARKET
METRO RANK
APRIL
 2014
WEEKLY CUME
APRIL
 2015
WEEKLY CUME
ONE YEAR TREND
KLDV
Denver
20
349,400
299,800
- 49,600
KSBJ
Houston
6
843,600
830,100
- 13,500
KJNW
Kansas City
34
135,900
154,700
+ 18,800
KSOS
Las Vegas
32
171,400
156,400
- 15,000
KTIS
Minneapolis/St. Paul
16
505,600
408,800
- 96,800
WPOZ
Orlando
33
396,200
313,000
- 83,200
KFLR
Phoenix
14
181,700
240,500
+ 58,800
KLJY
St. Louis
22
400,600
354,600
- 46,000
WCIE
Tampa/St. Petersburg
18
246,900
221,900
- 25,000
WGTS
Washington, DC
7
431,600
422,900
- 8,700



3,662,900
3,402,700
- 260,200
- 7.6%


DATA © NIELSON AUDIO
Provided by RRC, Inc. for use by subscribers only
© Radio Research Consortium, Inc. // www.RRConline.org // RRC@RRConline.org
Format designations & trends are the sole responsibility of Ken Mills Agency, LLC. Contact us publicradio@hotmail.com