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Nov. 18, 2021

The Rise of Spoken Word Audio, By The Numbers

The Rise of Spoken Word Audio, By The Numbers

Earlier this month, Edison Research and National Public Radio released their annual survey of spoken word audio consumption.  The numbers were eye popping.

Bear with me as I'm going to hit you with a lot of numbers today, but I'll try to keep this moving with some context and key points.

For the purpose of the survey, "spoken word audio" is everything from news to sports to talk to audiobooks.  And yes, that includes podcasts.  The survey's been around since 2014.

In the past month, 75% of US adults listened to spoken word audio.   3 out of every 4 people.   And 45% of US adults, almost half, listen to spoken word audio every single day.   By the way, that's 22 million more daily listeners than 7 years ago.

Back in 2014, spoken word only accounted for 20% of all audio consumption. Today, it's 28% - that's a huge jump of 40%, and 8% in just the last year.  There have been even bigger jumps among 18-34 year olds, and persons of color - two demographics that are very attractive to advertisers.

Today, spoken word audio listeners consume, on average, 2 hours and 6 minutes every day of spoken word audio.  And among the most frequent consumers - daily listeners - they actually split their time between music and spoken word 50/50.

As far as podcasts, 57% of Americans have now listened to a podcast.   Podcast’s share of time with spoken word audio has increased by 176% over the last seven years, including  16% in just the last year.

Mobile devices are also driving the industry's growth - people are now listening to spoken word audio on mobile at almost TRIPLE the amount as when this survey started.   And once again, don't worry about your ratings and reviews - the top ways people find podcasts are, in order - internet search, recommendations of friends and family, and social media.

OK - we covered a lot of numbers.  Let me leave you with some QUALITATIVE data from this report. Podcast listeners are more engaged because they are actively seeking out the content - it's not just being shown to them in an algorithm.   They want information and different perspectives.  And they want to be able to consume that information while multitasking.  And in a surface level, digital world, a majority of listeners in the survey feel spoken word audio is an effective use of their time.

Spoken word audio is a rapidly growing medium, and I think it's only going to get bigger in 2022.  If a podcast is part of your plans for next year, let me help - my contact information follows.  Until next time, stay healthy and stay safe.   Lata!

Link to survey: www.npr.org/spokenwordaudio

Link to JAG in Detroit Podcasts: www.jagindetroit.com