The Spoken Word Audio Report 2020 from NPR and Edison Research

Spoken Word Audio Share in the U.S. Up 30% Since 2014 

NPR & Edison Research report Women, African-American, Latino/Hispanic, and 13-34-Year-Olds Drive Growth

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. Music’s share of listening decreased by 8% over the last six years. These findings are part of the second annual Spoken Word Audio Report from NPR and Edison Research, presented today in a webinar hosted by Edison Research Vice President Megan Lazovick, and Michael Smith, NPR’s Chief Marketing Officer. The report is available now at www.NPR.org/spokenwordaudio

The Report examines spoken word audio, which includes podcasts, news, sports, talk radio and audiobooks, and finds that  43% of the U.S. population 13+ listen daily to spoken word audio. Additional findings include: 

  • 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  
  • In addition to the convenience and multitasking benefits long recognized for spoken word listening, other strong motivators for increased listening are personal growth, better content, and spoken word’s ability to improve mental health. 
  • 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 Spoken Word Audio Report also includes six years of tracking data from Edison Research’s Share of Ear® from 2014-2020, which finds the largest increases in the share of time spent listening to spoken word audio among the following groups:   

  • African-Americans, 12% to 27% (125% increase) 
  • Age 13-34, 12% to 22% (83% increase)  
  • Women, 14% to 22% (57% increase) 
  • Hispanic/Latinos, 15% to 22% (47% increase)

“Growth in diverse listeners is exciting to see and is in sync with our initiatives. As the audio leader, NPR has helped move the needle for spoken word audio and we are encouraged to learn that we are reaching more listeners with our public-service journalism and programming,” says NPR CMO Michael Smith.    

According to Edison Research Vice President Megan Lazovick, “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.” 

How the study was conducted:
Spoken Word Audio Study: A total of 1,000 online interviews were conducted with persons age 18+ using a nationally representative sample. Respondents qualified for the survey by consuming spoken word audio at least monthly. Data weighted to national 18+ U.S. population estimates. Additionally, in-person interviews were conducted with individuals who listened to spoken word audio at least monthly.

Edison Research Share of Ear®: A total of 4,318 respondents age 13+ completed an online or offline survey which was offered in English and Spanish. Data weighted to national 12+ U.S. population estimates and has been tracked since 2014.

About Edison Research
Edison Research conducts survey research and provides strategic information in over 50 countries for clients including AMC Theatres, AMC Theatres, Amazon, Apple, The Brookings Institute, Facebook, The Gates Foundation, Google, the U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau, Oracle, Pandora, The Pew Research Center, Samsung, Spotify, and SiriusXM Radio. The national tracking study The Infinite Dial® and the syndicated Share of Ear® are two of the most widely cited studies in the audio space. Edison is also the leading podcast research company in the world and has conducted research for NPR, Slate, ESPN, PodcastOne, WNYC Studios, and many more companies in the podcasting space.  Edison’s network of more than 20,000 experienced interviewers allows the company to conduct research in almost any location. Since 2004, Edison Research has been the sole provider of Election Day data to the National Election Pool. For the 2020 U.S. elections, Edison will provide exit polls and will tabulate the national vote across every county in the United States for ABC News, CBS News, CNN, and NBC News.

About NPR
NPR’s rigorous reporting and unsurpassed storytelling connect with millions of Americans every day — on the air, online, and in person. NPR strives to create a more informed public — one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas, and cultures. With a nationwide network of award-winning journalists and 17 international bureaus, NPR and its Member Stations are never far from where a story is unfolding. Listeners can find NPR by tuning in to their local Member stations (npr.org/stations), and now it’s easy to listen to our stories on smart speaker devices. Ask your smart speaker to, “Play NPR,” and you’ll be tuned into your local Member station’s live stream. Your speaker can also access NPR podcasts, NPR One, NPR News Now, and the Visual Newscast is available for screened speakers. Get more information at npr.org/about and by following NPR Extra on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Contacts, Press Only:   

  Laura Ivey
Edison Research
(908) 707-4707
livey@edisonresearch.com

Devon Landis
National Public Media at NPR
(202) 513-3490
dlandis@nationalpublicmedia.com

 

Listening Habits During Quarantine: A Share of Ear Report

 
There have been some marked changes in podcast listening in the U.S. during quarantine as commutes have been reduced and digital audio consumption has risen.

Download Podcast Listening During Quarantine: A Share of Ear® Report

Tom Webster, Edison Research SVP, presented a 15-minute update on the overall listener landscape, with specific focus on podcast listening and insights from Edison Research’s Share of Ear® study and The Podcast Consumer Tracker.  A full replay of the webinar is available here:

 

The Top 30 U.S. Podcasts According to the Podcast Consumer Tracker

Edison Research announces the U.S. Top 30 Podcast ranker from its subscription product, the Podcast Consumer Tracker (PCT). The PCT is the only comprehensive and all-inclusive study of the reach of podcast networks and shows in America. The Joe Rogan Experience continues to be the number one podcast in America as it has been since the PCT was established in the summer of 2019.

The ranker lists the top thirty podcasts in America by reach — not downloads — among weekly podcast consumers, covering the full survey period from July 7, 2019 through June 24, 2020. Reach is the percentage of weekly podcast listeners who say they have listened to any one of these shows in the last week.

“Even with the work and life disruptions caused by COVID-19, people did continue listening to their favorite podcasts, and we ultimately saw little to no reduction in reach among weekly podcast listeners”. noted Edison Research SVP Tom Webster. “We’re pleased to publish the only ranker that covers the entire U.S. podcasting industry.”

The top thirty podcasts in the U.S, as ranked by the percentage of weekly podcast consumers 18+ who have listened to them, are as follows:

The Podcast Consumer Tracker is the only study that measures the entire podcast space continuously, as compared to other download rankers which only measure participants who opt in to those rankers, or users of a specific platform. Podcasts and podcast networks are ranked according to their weekly reach of podcast listeners. The PCT is sampled continuously throughout each quarter to negate the effects of limited releases and new shows and is weighted to the industry standard measure of podcast listening, The Infinite Dial® research series from Edison Research and Triton Digital®.

How the Study Was Conducted: The Podcast Consumer Tracker Q2 2020 Top 30 Ranker is based upon 8,080 online interviews with weekly podcast consumers in the United States, ages 18 and older. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. Sampling was conducted continuously from July 7, 2019 to June 24, 2020. All respondents were instructed to enter the names of all podcasts they listened to the week before the interview into an online diary and were provided instructions to obtain that information from their podcast client/player of choice. All responses were unaided and hand-coded by Edison Research to determine actual show name, producer, genre, and other information. Data is weighted to nationally representative numbers for weekly podcast consumers from The Infinite Dial 2020, from Edison Research and Triton Digital.

Fielding is continuous and currently underway for the next quarterly report in the series. Click here for more information on the Podcast Consumer Tracker.

About Edison Research 
Edison Research conducts survey research and provides strategic information to a broad array of clients, including Activision, AMC Theatres, Disney, Dolby Laboratories, Google, Oracle, the U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau, Pandora, Samsung, Siemens, Sony, The Gates Foundation, and Univision. Edison is the leading podcast research company in the world and has conducted research on the medium for NPR, Slate, ESPN, PodcastOne, WNYC Studios, and many more companies in the space.  Another specialty for Edison is its work for media companies throughout the world, conducting research in North America, South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and Europe. Edison is also the leading provider of consumer exit polling and has conducted face-to-face research in almost every imaginable venue. Since 2004, Edison Research has been the sole provider of Election Day data to the National Election Pool, conducting exit polls and collecting precinct vote returns to project and analyze results for every major presidential primary and general election.

Radio’s Roadmap To Gen Z Listenership

Gen Z Listeners in the U.S. are Heavy Users of Streaming, but 55% listen to AM/FM Radio Every Day

 Audio consumers in “Gen Z — those between the ages of 13 and 24 —  prefer listening  on their smartphones, which should be no surprise because they have grown up with the devices, but AM/FM radio’s reach among Gen Z is high (55%)according to Share of Ear® information from Edison Research. 

Megan Vartan, Director of Research at Edison Research and Jayne Charneski, founder of Front Row Insights & Strategy, presented the Radio’s Roadmap to Gen Z Listenership webinar today — a version of this study was presented at the NAB Show Express earlier this year.  

Click here to download Radio’s Roadmap to Gen Z Listening July 2020

Who are those in Generation Z? Gen Z is the most racially diverse generation in the U.S. to date, with 48% identifying as a racial or ethnic minority. They are the first generation of true digital natives; they are increasingly being referred to as “Zoomers,” a nod to the pace at which technology and culture have changed in their lifetimes, and now to the presence of Zoom in their lives. Having grown up in the age of the 24-hour-news cycle and endless information on the internet, they regularly consume news and information.  

Share of Ear® measures audio consumption of those aged 13+ in the U.S., so those aged 13-24 were used to represent Gen Z in this study. 

Over half (55%) of 13-24 year-olds in the U.S. are reached by AM/FM radio dailyjust surpassing the reach of streaming (53%). 

“Perhaps fact that Gen Z listens to any  AM/FM radio surprises you,” said VartanMany people believe that no young people ever listen to the radio any more. This is simply not true.  Especially when they are in their cars, but even in other places – young people do listen to the radio. 

Gen Z listeners spend 50% less of their total share of time listening to AM/FM radio than the average 13+ population, so even though 55% of Gen Zers are reached by radio daily, they spend less time with radio when they tune in. 

Gen Z listens to AM/FM Radio most when they are in the car. Almost 50% of the time spent listening to audio in the car among13-24 year-olds is to AM/FM radio, surpassing streaming audio, YouTube, and others.

Gen Z listeners are much more likely to listen to audio on a smartphone than a traditional device. Gen Z uses a radio receiver 50% less than the average 13+ population, and they use their phones for listening 75% more than the average 13+ population.

Gen Z listeners spend 58% more of their total share of time listening to streaming audio than the average 13+ population. Their share of YouTube listeningwhich is surveyed only for music and music videos, is 98% higher than the average 13+ population.

Despite Gen Z’s love for streaming and for their smartphones, 89% of their listening to AM/FM radio is done through a traditional radio receiver. Eleven percent of Gen Z’s AM/FM radio listening is going to the streams.  Even among this young, digital-first demographic, they are simply not listening in big numbers to radio streams.

“Stations need to remind these digital natives that FM radio is available digitally” said Charneski.  “This is the generation that was swiping before they were wiping…and yet, somehow they’re not thinking of FM radio as that’s available on their phones and mobile devices.”

Qualitative interviews with Gen Z radio listeners found some of the reasons they enjoy radio:
 radio provides a human connection, particularly during quarantine
radio offers the surprise of songs that have not been curated in streaming playlists
radio is a source for additional information about music and artists
–radio is a source for news and information
–radio is associated with nostalgia and good memories

How the study was conducted: Share of Ear is based on a national sample of 4,000 individuals in the U.S. age 13+, updated Q1 2020. This study does not include Share of Ear data collected during COVID-19 restrictions. The survey was offered offline and online, and offered in English and Spanish. Qualitative interviews were conducted by Front Row Insights & Strategy.
 

About Edison Research
Edison Research conducts survey research and provides strategic information to a broad array of clients, including Activision, AMC Theatres, Disney, Dolby Laboratories, Google, Oracle, the U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau, Pandora, Samsung, Siemens, Sony, The Gates Foundation, and Univision. Edison is the leading podcast research company in the world and has conducted research on the medium for NPR, Slate, ESPN, PodcastOne, WNYC Studios, and many more companies in the space.  Another specialty for Edison is its work for media companies throughout the world, conducting research in North America, South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and Europe. Edison is also the leading provider of consumer exit polling and has conducted face-to-face research in almost every imaginable venue. Since 2004, Edison Research has been the sole provider of Election Day data to the National Election Pool, conducting exit polls and collecting precinct vote returns to project and analyze results for every major presidential primary and general election.
 

About Front Row Insights & Strategy
Front Row translates consumer attitudes and behaviors into winning insights and strategies for brands and marketers.   Front Row uses qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, generational filters, and cultural trends to discover opportunities for brands and conducts research projects for wide range clients in entertainment and media, including Universal Music Group, Viacom, CAA, Focus Features, HarperCollins, MasterClass, and Spectrum.  Front Row was founded by Jayne Charneski, a leading consumer and audience insight expert and speaker on Gen Zs and generational traits

New-Music Seekers: An Infinite Dial Report

Twenty-four percent of Americans age 12+ say that it is very important” for them to learn about and stay uptodate with music, according to new research released from The Infinite Dial® study from Edison Research and Triton Digital®. 

Click here to download the New Music Seekers: An Infinite Dial Report 

Findings from never-before-seen research debuted in a webinarNew Music Seekers: An Infinite Dial Report, presented by Edison Research VP Nicole Beniamini. This new research explores how this 24% of America — the “new-music seekers” for whom learning about and staying uptodate with music is very important — listens to, discovers, and shares music.

As listeners age, fewer say it is very important to learn about and stay uptodate with music:
35% of those age 12-34 say it is very important, 25% of those age 35-54 say it is very important, and 10% of those age 55+ say it is very important. Nearly half of new-music seekers, 46%, are between the ages of 12-34, and 54% are 35+, so although interest in new music is more concentrated in very young demos, there are still large numbers of new-music seekers over the age of 35. 

New-music seekers are willing to pay for music services.  Forty-nine percent of new-music seekers have listened to Spotify in the last month, and of those, 45% have a paid subscription. More than one-third of new-music seekers say they have a subscription to SiriusXM, which is nearly double the percentage of the general population 12+. Many of these new-music subscribers are maintaining paid subscriptions to both SiriusXM AND a streaming music platform

Sources for new music discovery vary greatly depending on the age of the listener.
Overall, YouTube (68%) tops the list of sources that new-music seekers age 12+ say they use for music discoveryfollowed by friends and family (47%), and AM/FM radio (46%). The top three sources for music discovery are as follows for three different age groups: 

Listeners age 12-34: YouTube (72%), Spotify (51%) and friends and family (49%)
Listeners age 35-54: YouTube (64%), AM/FM radio (53%), and Facebook (45%)
Listeners age 55+: AM/FM radio (70%), YouTube (57%), friends and family (53%) 

“It’s surprising to see how high YouTube ranks for music discovery among all ages. This new research gives us a better grasp of just how important online platforms are for music discovery, especially among those who value new music. And while AM/FM radio is not so much a place to ‘learn about new music,’ our data shows that it’s still a place to ‘learn what the hits are,” said Beniamini.

Among the one-third of Americans age 12+ (33%), for whom learning about and staying up-to-date with music is “not at all important,” AM/FM radio tops the list as the source used most often for music discovery at 35%, followed by YouTube at 17%, and friends and family at 17%. 

Twenty-three percent of new-music seekers age 12-34 say they use video games as a way to learn about music.  Video games as a source of music discovery be surprising to some, but around half (51%) of new-music seekers watch live-streamed video gamesso they are exposed to music through that outlet as well.  

Music listening is a private experience for many new-music seekers. Sixty-seven percent of new-music seekers say they do most or all of their audio listening through headphones/earbuds, with 30% saying all of their audio listening is private. This is not limited to the youngest listeners, as even the majority of new-music seekers age 35-54 listen to most of their music through headphones/earbuds. Social media becomes important, then, as a way to share music, because 53% of new-music seekers say they currently use social media to share updates on music they are listening to with friends and family. 

How This Study Was Conducted
3,159 online interviews were conducted January and February, 2020, before COVID-19 disruptions. The online interviews are a supplement to The Infinite Dial telephone-based survey. The online survey was offered in both English and Spanish and iweighted to match the U.S. 12+ population.  

About Edison Research
Edison Research conducts survey research and provides strategic information to a broad array of clients, including Activision, AMC Theatres, Disney, Dolby Laboratories, Google, Oracle, the U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau, Pandora, Samsung, Siemens, Sony, The Gates Foundation, and Univision. Edison is the leading podcast research company in the world and has conducted research on the medium for NPR, Slate, ESPN, PodcastOne, WNYC Studios, and many more companies in the space.  Another specialty for Edison is its work for media companies throughout the world, conducting research in North America, South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and Europe. Edison is also the leading provider of consumer exit polling and has conducted face-to-face research in almost every imaginable venue. Since 2004, Edison Research has been the sole provider of Election Day data to the National Election Pool, conducting exit polls and collecting precinct vote returns to project and analyze results for every major presidential primary and general election.