ContentDepot: Subscribe to Programs

Back to topSubscribe to Programs icon

Important: To proceed with the following steps, your station must have the ContentDepot equipment (streaming decoders and storage receivers) installed and configured. Please refer to the ContentDepot Station Installation Guide for further details. Additionally, the storage receiver must be connected to your station automation system in order for delivered files to be automated. While automation is recommended for playing pre-recorded program files, stations may elect to use the manual file playback capabilities of Digital Audio Workstations. For assistance in configuring your station automation system to work with the ContentDepot, please contact your automation vendor directly.

Your station's storage receivers and streaming decoders have unique identification numbers. These numbers have been configured in your station's delivery profile by NPR Distribution.

  • Subscription Overview
  • General Subscription Instructions
  • Subscription Page
  • Live Program Subscriptions
  • Multi-Hour Live Programs
  • Special Events Coverage/Breaking News
  • Live Programs with Subsequent File Delivery
  • File-Based Subscriptions
  • "Internet-Only" Stations
  • Changes in Program Format
  • Modifying Your Subscriptions

Subscription Overview

In order for your station to receive a program via the ContentDepot, you must subscribe to the program.

Your station will automatically receive any available promos, rundowns, and web modules as part of the ongoing subscription package. For an ongoing series, you only need to subscribe to a program once. Thereafter, you will receive the ongoing individual episodes on a continual basis until you elect to unsubscribe or the program distributor cancels the series or modifies the broadcast rights. You can also elect to subscribe to only one episode in a series if the distributor's broadcast rights allow it.

You may also choose to subscribe to a program only for audition purposes. This allows program directors to listen to several actual episodes of a series before making a final decision about airing it. Using the audition option, your station will receive a predetermined number of episodes for evaluation (currently, this number is set to four episodes). If your station decides to pick up the series, you can simply modify your subscription from "Audition" to "Intent to Air" and the subscription will be ongoing.

Tip: The ContentDepot offers a "watch list" feature. If you find a program you are interested in but you are not ready to subscribe yet, you can add the program to your watch list by clicking the "Add to my watch list" link on the program page. Thereafter, you can view programs on your watch list by selecting the "Watch List" link in the left navigation under "Profile."

General Subscription Instructions

To subscribe to a program or episode, locate the program in which you are interested (refer to Step 4: Find Programs). On each program page, you will see a "Subscribe to this Program" button.

Fill in your station's scheduled air time for the program. This information populates a station operations management tool that allows your station to easily view each episode's delivery status, program rundowns, and updates from your home page. Your station must subscribe to every program it wishes to receive. In the case of multiple-hour live programs (see the section on "Multi-Hour Live Programs"), this may require you to subscribe to multiple instances of the same program that have been divided by hour and day.

Subscription Page

  1. Specify whether you are subscribing to audition or with intent to air. An audition subscription will only be valid for a limited number of episodes.
  2. Indicate the frequency with which you intend to air the program using the most appropriate available option (daily, weekly, or on a specific day). This information is used only for the creation of your station schedule on your home page.
  3. Specify an air date. For a one-time special, this should be the actual date you plan to air the program. For an ongoing series, this would be the start date for your subscription. Again, this is only used to display your program schedule on your home page.
  4. Input the air time for the program. Use military time format and, for live programs, make sure the air time is not earlier than the actual time that the episodes transmit.
  5. If you repeat the airing of a specific program, you can fill in the subsequent air time if you wish to display the repeats on your station schedule.
  6. For live programs, you will be asked to specify the decoder and port to which you want the episodes sent.

Tip: If you do not have a "Subscribe to this Program" button on a program page, there could be two reasons. First, verify with your local ContentDepot Administrator that you are authorized to subscribe to programs on behalf of your station. If you have been granted these permissions by your administrator, then the likely reason is that your station is not on the distributor's authorized subscriber list for that program. Program distributors determine the stations eligible to subscribe to their programs. You must contact the program distributor directly to be added to the list; NPR Distribution staff are not permitted to add stations unless authorized by the program distributor. Applicable fees and subscription lists are managed by the producers. While many public radio programs are available to all stations at no charge, others are available only to member or affiliated stations that have purchased the program.

Tip: When you input your local station air time as part of the subscription, make sure the air time you input is not before the scheduled transmission time or the transmission will not display on your station home page. For example: NPR Newscasts scheduled at 06:01 am will not display on your station home page schedule if you input 06:00 am as your air time. We hope to fix this limitation in a future release.

Important: Transmission and air window times are displayed in the ContentDepot in eastern time.

Live Program Subscriptions

When you subscribe to live programs, you must assign a streaming decoder and port to which the live stream will be directed. A single program episode can be assigned to a maximum of two ports (each on different decoders) if you require a backup for a particular stream.

NPR Distribution recommends that you map out your live programming grid before you set up your subscriptions in the ContentDepot portal to make sure you can assign unique decoders and ports to all programs on your air schedule. If you inadvertently double-book a decoder port, you will only receive one of the transmissions and only for the duration of the originally scheduled stream. The ContentDepot will not notify you if a decoder port is booked to more than one program at the same time, but you can identify double bookings using the decoder usage report available via the portal.

Most live programs in the ContentDepot are existing programs that have been scheduled for a specific transmission time on the satellite (e.g. BBC World Service, Morning Edition, Weekend America). The transmission time is listed in the program description. We recommend that you do not subscribe to new programs until they are scheduled to avoid inadvertently double booking a decoder port.

Multi-Hour Live Programs

Several live programs distributed through the ContentDepot are 24-hour services (e.g., Classical 24, BBC World Service) or multiple-hour programs (e.g., Morning Edition, All Things Considered). Since stations that only air selected hours of that programming throughout the day may not want to tie up their decoder ports for the duration of the transmission, program distributors are breaking most multi-hour programs into multiple, time-based programs that can be individually or collectively subscribed to by stations. If your station schedule differs from the time blocks the distributor has designated, your station may need to subscribe to multiple programs by hour and, in some cases, by day of the week to compile the programming hours needed. Remember, this subscription set up only needs to be done once or until your station air schedule changes.

If your station determines that it does not have sufficient decoder ports to accommodate its programming needs, additional decoders (two stereo outputs per device) can be purchased from NPR Distribution. A tool to help determine your needs and the order form are available at

Special Events Coverage/Breaking News

Because you cannot tune to a live feed in progress, distributors of special live events coverage (currently NPR and PRI for the BBC) have created 24/7 special events coverage programs to which your station can subscribe. Since breaking news can occur at any time, a dedicated decoder port is required to receive breaking news.

When the event coverage begins, program audio will be routed by the PRSS Network Operations Center (NOC) to the breaking news stream. If it is part of an ongoing program, the existing program audio is duplicated on the live events program stream.

If the NPR special events program is activated, NPR News may choose to activate the squawk channel. Additionally, text messages via the ContentDepot messaging system will announce the breaking news event and contain operational information.

For the most current plans by NPR and PRI on special events/breaking news please refer to the respective distributors' web sites.

Live Programs with Subsequent File Delivery

Program distributors may elect to send programs in both live and file formats to accommodate repeat transmissions. If this distribution method is selected by a distributor, the ContentDepot automatically records the live program as it is transmitted as a stream then subsequently delivers the program as files following the conclusion of the transmitted segments. Files will be segmented (see "File-Based Subscriptions" below) based on the cues embedded in the program stream. When you subscribe to a live with subsequent file delivery program, you can elect to receive only the files by not assigning a decoder port for the live stream.

Tip: You should not plan on airing a live with subsequent file delivery program until two hours after the end of the program's live transmission time. Waiting at least two hours gives the file delivery system a safety margin for making sure all the files get delivered to your station's file receiver on time (including during times of heavy traffic), and gives producers a some margin to tweak the audio for the files and have the updates delivered.

File-Based Subscriptions

In the ContentDepot, pre-recorded programs will be distributed to stations as files. When you subscribe to a file-based program, you do not need to specify a storage receiver. All files will be sent to all active receivers for your station. You should expect to have files on your receiver at least two hours before the beginning of the distributor's stated air window. Files sent to satellite storage receivers will be sent multiple times to ensure that the files are received intact. If any error occurs during transmission, only the intact deliveries will be saved on your receiver.

After the end of an episode's air window, broadcast files, promos, and rundowns delivered as part of your subscription will be automatically deleted from your storage receiver. Typically, this kill date is based on 24 hours after the end of the air window, but it can vary slightly depending on the delivery time. This deletion is to manage space on your storage receiver only. This kill date will not affect the file if you have stored it elsewhere.

Tip: If you subscribe to a file-based episode within 14 hours of the start of an episode's air window, you should download the first episode from the ContentDepot portal to make sure you receive it. Regular, "push" deliveries over the satellite will begin with the subsequent episode delivery. Please note that files that you manually download via satellite to your storage receiver may not be subject to the receiver kill date and must be manually removed when you are done with them.

Program distributors have been encouraged to submit file-based programs in segments—multiple files built around the breaks. This will allow your automation system to automatically assemble the episodes and insert local content.

If a program distributor updates an individual segment of an episode, only the updated segment will be delivered to stations-even if the air window has already begun.

You can download on request any file-based content to which you are subscribed from the ContentDepot. On-demand deliveries can be requested via

  • HTTP
  • FTP (if your station has configured an FTP server), or
  • Satellite to your storage receiver

To download a file from the ContentDepot, left mouse click on the file name and then follow the instructions to select your delivery method and download the file.

Tip: Episode files will only be available for download during the designated air window. Distributors of one-time specials that are available for an extended duration may make those segments available as evergreens for download from the main program page.

"Internet-Only" Stations

If your station does not have a satellite downlink and is only receiving selected file-based programs (or the files associated with "live with subsequent file" programs) via the ContentDepot, you must enter your station's FTP server information in your station's delivery profile.

To access the delivery profile, you must have administrative permissions to edit your station's "customer" information. Go to the "Customer Information" link under "Profile" in the left navigation, and select the "Delivery" tab. Modify the FTP Server location information with your FTP server IP address, username, and password.

For proper delivery, the directory on your FTP server to which files will be pushed from the ContentDepot must be configured with open permissions (to add, update, and delete files). Files will be delivered to FTP sites only once, and you must manually maintain the storage space on your FTP server by deleting files once you are done with them.

Changes in Program Format

Program distributors will create new programs when a special change in delivery format (e.g., a live special of a pre-recorded program) or transmission time occurs. ContentDepot messages will advise you when such changes occur. When a new program is created to accommodate a schedule or format change, you must subscribe to the new program in order to receive it.

Modifying Your Subscriptions

To modify an existing subscription or unsubscribe from a program or episode, select the "Subscription" tab on the program page. You can then edit your selections or select the button to unsubscribe at the bottom of the subscription page.