Sunday, February 17, 2008

public radio overtakes public TV

Wondering whether public television may be the medium left behind on the road to bigger audiences, today's New York Times reports on audience trends for both public radio and television. Here's the picture you should tune in to, according to the article:
Lately the audience for public TV has been shrinking even faster than the audience for the commercial networks. The average PBS show on prime time now scores about a 1.4 Nielsen rating, or roughly what the wrestling show “Friday Night Smackdown” gets.

On the other side of the ledger the audience for public radio has been growing: there are more than 30 million listeners now, compared to just 2 million in 1980. “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered,” NPR’s morning and evening news programs, are the second and fourth most listened to shows in the country.
Noting that both mediums have long been challenged by commercial competition with bigger budgets, the article notes that "Cable is a little like the Internet in that respect: it siphons off the die-hards. Public television, meanwhile, more and more resembles everything else on TV." And content, it concludes, makes the difference for public radio, which aims to fill a void that no one else can on the radio dial.

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