Across the system, Public Media Radio Stations are seeing a drop in both first-year donor numbers and revenue. Public Media Television and Joint Stations are holding steady, but with Passport as a key acquisition source, gift averages remain low.

The Contributor Development Partnership (CDP) is reporting a YOY change: 

  • TV: Increased revenue by $37M and saw a gain of 55K donors. Radio: Increased revenue by $880K and saw a loss of 45K donors.
  • TV: Revenue/donor decreased from $158 to $131. Radio: Revenue/donor increased from $187 to  $198.
  • TV: Increased retention from 61% to 64%. Radio: Decreased retention from 78%  to 67%.
  • TV: Sustainers represent 37% of revenue and  48% of file with 91% retention. Radio: Sustainers represent 50% of revenue and 62% of file with 95% retention.
  • TV: Sustainer file increased from 35% to 37%. Radio: Sustainer file increased from 45% to 50%.

Some factors are beyond a station’s control: economic slowdown, supply chain cost variances, ongoing impacts from the pandemic, international unease—and a contested mid-term election will continue to shock the system throughout 2022 and likely into 2023.

Other considerations that will impact FY23 include a lack of investment in diverse acquisition sources—in the short-term, strong sustainer retention is masking a lack of acquisition. Donor demographics are evolving along with channels and platforms, so it’s time to start thinking about how your station will keep pace.  

Traditional On-Air Pledge campaigns are experiencing a decline and not delivering new donors at the rates they have in the past. Pledge performance is down 50% over the last few years, with some projections showing it will no longer be significant within six years. 

The good news is that NextGen Public Media clients—along with stations across channels and markets—are seeing strong gains in digital revenue and through acquisition sources like Paid Search Advertising. In FY22, NextGen clients saw an average return on advertising spend of 3% with an aggregate number of impressions of nearly 2 million, and roughly one out of every three donors is a monthly sustainer.

The world is changing. Digital acquisition channels represent a low-barrier and low-cost opportunity to build brand affinity and attract new donors. The time to act is now.

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