Spoken Word Audio In U.S. Hits Highs For Audience Reach and Share

Spoken word audio listening time and audience size attain record highs in the U.S. according to The Spoken Word Audio Report 2023 released from NPR and Edison Research. The fifth iteration of the annual report places special focus on listening locations and explores spoken world audio consumption at home, at work, in-car, or other locations. The findings were presented in a webinar hosted by National Public Media (NPM) VP of Sponsorship Marketing Lamar Johnson and Edison Research VP Megan Lazovick and are available now at npr.org/spokenword audio.

Key findings from the report include:

Spoken Word Audience size and listening time attain record highs: Almost half (48%)— approximately 135M people — of those in the U.S. age 13+ listen to some type of spoken word audio daily, up two percentage points (46%) from last year. Listeners in the U.S. age 13+ spend 31% of their daily audio time with spoken word, which is a 55% increase over nine years ago (20%).

Spoken word listening at home has grown dramatically: Sixty percent of the total daily audio time spent with spoken word audio is at home, 24% in the car, 13% at work, and 3% at some other location. The time spent listening to spoken word audio at home has grown to 41 daily minutes in 2014. Increases in at-home spoken word audio listening are seen across every hour in the listening day.

Spoken Word listening in-car has shifted post-pandemic, but AM/FM radio remains on top: Of all the daily time spent listening to spoken word audio, time spent listening in the car has declined from 36% in 2014 to 24% in 2023. In the car, 62% of spoken word audio consumed by those in the U.S. age 13+ is to AM/FM radio content, including over the air and streams.

For the first time ever, the mobile device is the primary way people listen to Spoken Word: 39% of spoken word audio consumed daily by this age 13+ in the U.S. is on a mobile device, followed by 35% on an AM/FM radio receiver. At home, 41% of spoken word audio is consumed on a mobil device, and at work, 47% of spoken word is consumed on a mobile device. AM/FM radio receivers still dominate in-car, garnering 60% of the token word audio listening there.

Podcasts represent a large and growing share of spoken word listening: Podcasts now represent over one-third (36%) of time spent with spoken word audio. Twenty-eight percent of time spent listening to podcasts goes to NPR/public radio. At home, 40% of spoken-word audio listening goes to podcasts.

“Each year we keep a close eye on the number of people who are listening and the amount of time spent with Spoken Word Audio. We’re happy to see that for 2023, more people than ever are listening and they are spending even more time with Spoken Word, providing a powerful opportunity for brands looking to expand and engage their audience.” said NPM VP of Sponsorship Marketing Lamar Johnson.

“Podcasting now accounts for over one-third of the time spent with spoken word audio. The cultural shift to digital benefits this space, or perhaps, it’s vice versa – the growing enthusiasm for podcasting is shifting the culture digital. Either way – podcast listening continues to grow,” said Megan Lazovick, VP at Edison Research,

How the study was conducted

Edison Research’s Share of Ear is a quarterly survey of Americans who are asked to keep a detailed one-day diary of their audio usage. Share of Ear utilizes a nationally representative sample of those age 13+. The sample for this study was 4,193.

Posted by Experimentor