Most Spoken Word Audio Listening Now Takes Place on a Platform Other than AM/FM Radio

December 9, 2021

This article is included in these additional categories:

Cross-Media & Traditional | Digital | Industries | Media & Entertainment | Mobile Phone | Non-mobile Connected Devices | Radio | Tablet

NPREdisonResearch Spoken Word Audio Listening by Platform Dec2021

Three-quarters of American adults listen to spoken word audio, with 45% of Americans ages 13 and older saying they listen daily. This is according to recent data [download page] from National Public Media and Edison Research, which also points to a shift away from listening to spoken word audio on AM/FM platforms.

Over the past eight years, spoken word audio — namely news, sports, talk/personalities and audiobooks — has seen its share of audio listening increase. In 2014, spoken word audio accounted for 20% of audio listening, while music accounted for 80%. However, by 2021 spoken-word audio’s share increased to 28% — an increase of 40% over 2014.

The platforms through which Americans are listening to spoken word audio have also changed over this period. Back in 2014, 79% of spoken word audio listening took place on AM/FM radio (whether over the air or on radio streams). Since then, that share has been on a steady decline, with this year being the first time the majority of spoken word audio listening occurs on platforms other than AM/FM radio.

As such, less than half (48%) of spoken word audio listening currently takes place on AM/FM radio platforms. Instead, most spoken word audio listening takes place on podcasts (22%), audiobooks (10%) and other sources (including streaming audio and satellite radio; 20%). It should come as no surprise that there has been growth in the time spent listening to spoken word audio via podcasts, considering that 6 in 10 US adults now listen to podcasts.

A plurality of spoken word audio listening occurs on mobile devices (35%), followed by AM/FM radio receivers (29%) and computers (27%). In fact, the time spent listening to spoken word audio on mobile devices has nearly tripled since 2014.

Lastly, respondents who say they listen to spoken word audio on a monthly basis tend discover new shows primarily by searching online (59%), by getting recommendations from family and friends (51%) and from social media (44%).

Find the full report here

About the Data: Findings are based on a survey of 4,054 US respondents ages 13+. 

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