Report: Spoken Word Format More Popular Than Ever


With COIV-19 still very much a story, elections that have never been crazier, traditional TV news delivery methods declining in popularity and digital outlets unable to put a lid on fake news, it’s no surprise consumers are looking for credible information now more than ever. And, according to a new report, audio is delivering.

According to the latest Edison Research NPR Spoken Word Report the share of time spent listening to spoken word audio in the U.S. has increased 30% in the past six years, and 8% in the last year, with the highest levels of growth coming from women, African-Americans, Latinos and 13-34-year-olds.

The study of 1,000 people 18 and older was conducted online. Respondents qualified for the survey by consuming spoken word audio at least monthly. Additionally, in-person interviews were conducted with individuals who listened to spoken word audio at least monthly. The Report took a look at spoken word audio: podcasts, news, sports, talk radio and audiobooks, and finds that  43% of the U.S. population 13+ listen daily to spoken word audio.

Edison Research Vice President Megan Lazovick said “The spoken word listeners we interviewed across the country gave incredible insight into how important the medium is in people’s lives especially during COVID-19 disruptions. People are turning to spoken word audio for companionship, self-improvement, mental health and so much more. While music is still a large part of American’s audio diet, spoken word audio is an essential ingredient.”

Here are some additional highlights from the study:
Those who listen to spoken word audio daily average two hours per day listening to spoken word — nearly half (48%) of their daily listening time.

Spoken word listening accounts for 26% of all listening by those A13+ in the U.S, up from 24% in 2019.

Podcast and audiobook listening both attained an all-time high reach with 55% of the U.S. population having ever listened to a podcast and 54% having ever listened to an audiobook

Mobile technology is driving spoken word listening: 30% of all listening on a smartphone is to spoken word audio

The Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on listening as 40% of spoken word audio listeners age 13+ saying they are listening more since quarantine restrictions

The report is available now at



  1. But, for the past decade at least, we’ve been told by radio “leadership” that talk was dead. How can this be? Or as we all knew from the beginning, did that have less to do with audience desire and more to do with trying to save money on staffing?


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