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Spoken Word Audio Consumption on the Rise

New report says 131 million people in the U.S. are daily spoken word audio listeners

Almost half of the U.S. population listens to spoken word audio on a daily basis, according to a new report from NPR and Edison Research.

The fourth annual Spoken Word Audio Report explores the ways in which spoken word media consumption in the U.S. has increased over time. As part of Edison Research’s Share of Ear report, the survey asked more than 4,110 listeners to share how they are tuning in, what devices they are using to do so and how long they typically listen to spoken word programming.

“The relationship between content makers and listeners remains as strong as it was a decade ago, even as the audio space has evolved with more spoken word content available on demand,” said Megan Lazovick, Edison Research vice president. “Digital platforms have opened up new ways for people to listen to and connect.”

The survey found that the number of spoken word audio listeners continues to increase. Today, approx. 26 million more people are listening to spoken word audio in the U.S. as compared to eight years ago. The report estimates that about 131 million people in the United States aged 13 and older are daily spoken word audio listeners, which is up from 105 million daily listeners in 2014. Across the board, spoken word’s share of all audio is increasing among all listeners, the report found.

This year’s study also included a special focus on younger listeners and how voraciously they are listening to spoken word audio. The largest growth is being seen from listeners aged 13-24, with Generation Z spending 22% of their time with spoken word audio, compared with those aged 13-24 in 2014, who only spent about 7% of their time with spoken word audio. The report found a 214% increase in listening to spoken word audio among those aged 13-24.

The report also found that those who listen to spoken word audio daily spend 51% of their total daily audio time with spoken word. 

The study also revealed that spoken word audio listening has continued to shift to mobile devices. Thirty-four percent of all spoken word audio is consumed on a mobile device, a jump from 9% in 2014. That includes younger listeners as well: among those aged 13-24, 62% of their spoken word audio is consumed on a mobile phone. 

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