NPR's Year in Review: 2020

December 2020

What a year! Throughout the ups and downs of 2020, NPR brought fact-based, trustworthy journalism and high quality content to millions of people across the country and around the globe. Here are a few highlights from NPR in 2020 to check out and cue up in your playlists as the year draws to a close.

Fastest Growing Podcasts

Despite the disruptions in people’s routines this year, the NPR audience still made podcasts a big part of their day — NPR podcast downloads are up 31% YOY. A few podcasts in particular saw the biggest YOY growth in average weekly users: It’s Been a Minute, Short Wave and Code Switch.

Both Code Switch — named Apple Podcasts’ “Show of the Year” and It’s Been a Minute showed notable audience growth throughout the year, and particularly this summer while audiences grappled with racism in America. And Short Wave, NPR’s daily science podcast, has been ranked in Podtrac’s Top 20 two months in a row. For a deeper look into NPR podcast trends, from program spotlights to sponsor effectiveness, download The NPR Podcast Report.

Essential Coverage on and Beyond

NPR continues to provide trustworthy news and information to keep audiences informed and connected in a changing world. Among the most engaged-with coverage on NPR digital platforms were regularly updated stories tracking the outbreak of coronavirus in the U.S. and around the world, and live updates on the 2020 Election.

Other most-viewed digital stories similarly reflected how users turn to NPR for updates and context on current events and issues affecting their lives this year:

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Audiences also stayed up-to-date on the latest news with NPR’s suite of daily podcasts, including the #3 podcast in the U.S. Up First, and the new afternoon news podcast Consider This, which launched earlier this year and was named one of Podtrac’s Top 25 New Podcasts of 2020.

Top Episodes from Some Favorite NPR Programs

While news was top of mind for many people, audiences also turned to NPR to dive deeper into stories beyond the headlines. Check out the most downloaded episode from each program (within the first four weeks of publication):

Launch of NPR Virtual Events

Despite the transition away from live events and in-person meetings, NPR continued to deliver for audiences in the new virtual world.  From live conversations to trivia nights, NPR virtual events engaged audiences from across the country in real time.

Most-Watched Tiny Desk Performance

With NPR offices largely closed for visitors, NPR Music’s Tiny Desk (home) concerts brought viewers stripped-down sets in the intimate setting of artists’ own homes – and sometimes even at their desks. With 26.4 million views since September, BTS ran away with the most-watched Tiny Desk performance this year.


Custom Audio Stories for Sponsors

NPM continued to deliver for brands and tell their stories for NPR listeners. In 2020, NPM produced 26 custom audio stories for sponsors that were shared with NPR listeners as Brand Soundscapes, Spotlight Mid-rolls, and Product Inspiration Mid-rolls.

Interested in what NPR sponsorship can do for your brand in 2021?


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More from National Public Media

December 2020

Code Switch Named "Show of the Year" by Apple Podcasts

In 2020, NPR's Code Switch podcast featuring fearless conversations about race and culture was recognized as the first-ever "Show of the Year" by Apple Podcasts.

September 2020

NPR Sponsorship Results for Outschool

Outschool turned to audio marketing to connect parents with their remote learning platform. Attribution insights gave Outschool the confidence to forecast and scale their marketing according to data.

August 2020

NPR Sponsorship Results for a Tech Brand During COVID-19

At the peak of COVID-19’s first wave, an listener survey at the end of a technology company’s sponsorship campaign revealed increased awareness and usage of the tool among NPR radio and podcast listeners.