NPR launches bundle subscription for ad-free podcast listening

Limited trial scheme will offer access to nearly a dozen of NPR’s shows starting at $8 per month

US non-profit radio organisation NPR has launched a paid podcast bundle that includes ad-free listening to popular shows including Planet Money, Fresh Air, and Code Switch

The scheme is currently available across 34 locations in the US, based on proximity to participating local member stations as determined by IP address. Listeners in these catchment areas can subscribe to the ‘NPR+’ package for $8 per month or $96 per year to get ad-free access.

“We’re reserving our bundle for the benefit of supporting your local member station — that’s really the offer that we’re hoping becomes a resounding success,” NPR’s vice president for audio platform strategy Joel Sucherman said to NiemanLab. “Because ‘listeners like you’ support local member stations, which support NPR — that’s what makes the world go ’round in public radio.”

NPR previously launched a paid pilot program in 2021 that allows listeners to subscribe to individual shows to access sponsor-free and bonus content which included extended interviews, Q&As, and other tidbits - a spokesperson told NiemanLab that “tens of thousands” of people have subscribed to that option. 

According to Edison Research and NPR’s Spoken Word Audio Report 2022, 58% of the US population listens to news on NPR and 21% of the people surveyed spend their time listening to podcasts. The subscription options for podcasts will help broaden their revenue and increase support to the local radio station according to NPR CFO (then-acting CEO) Deborah Cowan and Board Chair LaFontaine Oliver. 

“We believe it is critical to our collective future to participate on these new subscription platforms,” Cowan and Oliver said in a statement to station leaders. “Research indicates that very few of NPR’s 24 million monthly podcast listeners are supporting public radio today. Paying for a subscription will be an easy way for them to do so, in the apps in which they are already listening.”

Ad-free listening has also become a recent tiered-subscription option for Amazon Music Prime members according to an announcement made this week to expand into broader audio-focused content on the platform.