Spoken Word Audio Continues to Soar in Popularity, Breaking Records in the U.S.
In a groundbreaking report released by NPR and Edison Research, it has been revealed that spoken word audio consumption in the U.S. has reached unprecedented levels. The Spoken Word Audio Report 2023 provides valuable insights into the growing trend of listening to spoken word content, exploring its popularity across various locations such as homes, workplaces, and cars. The report, presented in a webinar by Lamar Johnson, VP of Sponsorship Marketing at National Public Media, and Megan Lazovick, VP at Edison Research, is now available on npr.org/spokenwordaudio.
Key findings from the report are as follows:
1. Record-Breaking Audience Size and Listening Time: A staggering 48% of individuals aged 13 and above in the U.S., approximately 135 million people, listen to some form of spoken word audio on a daily basis. This marks a 2-point increase from the previous year’s figure of 46%. Interestingly, listeners in this demographic spend 31% of their daily audio time engaging with spoken word content, an impressive 55% rise compared to nine years ago.
2. Significant Growth in Home Listening: It is apparent that spoken word audio consumption has seen a remarkable surge within the comfort of homes. Currently, 60% of the total daily audio time dedicated to spoken word content occurs at home, with 24% in cars, 13% at workplaces, and 3% in other locations. This rapid growth is exemplified by the fact that individuals now spend 41 minutes per day listening to spoken word audio at home, up from 27 minutes in 2014. This increase in home listening extends across all hours of the day.
3. Altered In-Car Listening Habits: The report highlights a shift in spoken word audio consumption patterns in cars since the onset of the pandemic. In 2014, 36% of total spoken word listening time occurred in cars, but this figure dropped to 24% in 2023. Moreover, 62% of spoken word audio consumed during car journeys is attributed to AM/FM radio, encompassing over-the-air broadcasts as well as streams.
4. Mobile Devices Dominate Spoken Word Audio Consumption: For the first time ever, mobile devices have become the primary medium for listening to spoken word content, surpassing AM/FM radio receivers. Among individuals aged 13 and above, 39% of daily spoken word audio consumption takes place on mobile devices, with AM/FM radio accounting for 35% of the listening time. At home, mobile devices contribute to 41% of spoken word audio consumption, while at workplaces, this figure rises to 47%. However, in the car, AM/FM radio receivers retain their dominance, capturing 60% of spoken word audio listening.
5. Podcasts Transform the Spoken Word Landscape: Podcasts now represent a significant and growing share of spoken word audio consumption, occupying 36% of the total time dedicated to this form of content. Notably, 28% of podcast listening time is attributed to NPR and public radio. Furthermore, 40% of spoken word audio listening at home revolves around podcasts.
Lamar Johnson, NPM’s VP of Sponsorship Marketing, expressed his excitement about the increasing number of people engaging with spoken word audio, emphasizing the immense potential it holds for brands aiming to expand and connect with audiences. Meanwhile, Megan Lazovick from Edison Research highlighted the growing enthusiasm for podcasting, which not only contributes to the medium’s popularity but also fosters a shift toward digital culture.
The study was conducted using Edison Research’s Share of Ear, a quarterly survey that requires participants aged 13 and above to maintain a detailed one-day diary of their audio usage. The research involved a nationally representative sample of 4,193 individuals.
NPR is renowned for its rigorous reporting and captivating storytelling, engaging millions of Americans every day through various platforms. Its mission is to create an informed public by deepening understanding and appreciation of events, ideas, and cultures. With a widespread network of award-winning journalists and 17 international bureaus, NPR and its Member Stations are at the forefront of unfolding stories. Audiences can access NPR content via their local Member Stations (npr.org/stations), as well as through smart speaker devices by simply asking to “Play NPR.” Additionally, NPR offers various podcasts, including NPR One, NPR News Now, and Visual Newscast for screened speakers. For additional information, visit npr.org/about and follow NPR Extra on Facebook and Instagram.
About Edison Research:
With a diverse client base encompassing prominent companies like Apple, Google, and Sony, Edison Research conducts survey research and provides strategic insights globally. Considered the leading podcast research company worldwide, Edison Research has conducted research on behalf of NPR, Slate, Spotify, ESPN, and other major players within the industry. The company’s extensive focus on consumer exit polling and face-to-face research in a multitude of settings has solidified its position as a leading provider of comprehensive, reliable data. Additionally, Edison Research has been the exclusive provider of Election Day data to the National Election Pool since 2004, conducting exit polls and collecting precinct vote returns for major presidential elections.
Spoken word audio has become a cultural cornerstone, captivating millions of listeners and pushing the boundaries of the audio landscape. As the popularity of podcasts continues to rise and mobile devices dominate the way we consume content, there is no doubt that spoken word audio will further evolve and redefine the ways in which we engage with storytelling, news, and information.