Edison: Spoken Word’s Share Of Audio Listening Up 30% Since 2014.


Edison Research Vice President Megan Lazovick provided a preview of “The Spoken Word Audio Report,” the firm’s annual collaboration with NPR, Wednesday at the IAB’s 2020 Reach Conference. With only a 10-minute slot to fill, Lazovick cut right to the chase. “The big headline of the study is that Americans are spending more time with spoken-word audio than ever before,” she said. “In fact, spoken word’s share of audio listening has increased by 30% over the last six years.”


The short presentation was part of the 2020 Reach Conference, during IAB Audience Week taking place virtually through Thursday, Oct. 1.


The full results of “The Spoken Word Audio Report” will be unveiled Oct. 13 by Lazovick and NPR Chief Marketing Officer Michael Smith.


According to Edison Research’s ongoing Share of Ear study, just under three-quarters of the time people spend with audio is with music, “but 26% of time spent listening to audio is going to spoken word,” Lazovick explained. “That is significant.” That compares to 80% going to music and 20% going to spoken word audio six years ago. “Spoken word audio has been chipping away at music listening,” she continued. “The Share of Ear study clearly shows that something is shifting here.”


Spoken word’s share of audio listening is increasing among all age groups, but especially with those 13-34. “The biggest growth is coming from young people,” Lazovick told webinar attendees. “It was 12% in 2014 and that has grown to 22% of their time today.” That adds up to “an astounding 83% growth in share for spoken word audio among young consumers,” she said.


Some of that growth is coming from podcast listening, which according to Lazovick “keeps growing, hitting an all-time high in 2020 – 55% of Americans have listened to a podcast.” Audiobook listening also hit an all-time high in 2020, with 54% of Americans saying they have listened to the format, according to Infinite Dial data.


As of 2020, 43% of the U.S population listens to spoken word audio daily and the data shows they listen for long periods of time. “Those listeners are spending an average of two hours of spoken word audio consumption per day,” Lazovick said. “Listening habits of spoken-word audio listeners are much different than the listening habits of the total population.”


The preview only scratches at the surface of what will be seen during the Oct. 13 webinar, Lazovick noted. That deeper dive will also look at listening by location, daypart, platform and device, with a special focus on the growth of mobile listening.


The webinar will also touch on consumption changes since COVID-19 and will provide information about why people are choosing to spend more time with spoken word audio and less time with music.

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