NPR & Edison present: The 2021 Spoken Word Audio Report

November 2021

Americans’ share of listening to spoken word audio continues to grow. In its third year, The Spoken Word Audio Report from NPR and Edison Research documents how news, podcasts, audiobooks and talk radio’s share of audio listening is at an all-time high. The 2021 report also reveals how young and diverse listeners are consuming spoken word content at rates never recorded before.

Get The Spoken Word Audio Report.

Download Report

Seventy-five percent of those in the U.S 13+ (212 million people) are monthly spoken word audio listeners, and 45% (127 million people) are daily spoken word audio listeners. Spoken word audio listening is up 40% in the past seven years, and up 8% year over year, with the share of time spent listening to spoken word audio reaching 28% of time spent with all audio.

Highlights include:


increase in African American spoken word audio listeners in the last seven years.


growth in spoken word listeners 13-34 years old in the past seven years, with 18% growth in just the last year.


of multicultural listeners said spoken word audio is becoming more important to them.

Watch the 2021 Webinar

The 2021 webinar was hosted by National Public Media's VP of Sponsorship Marketing Lamar Johnson and Edison Research's VP, Megan Lazovick.

Watch how people are listening to spoken word audio today

Join listeners as they explore why they value the different perspectives provided by spoken word audio.

Hear from listeners about what they're doing while listening to spoken word audio.

Spoken word audio: listeners are looking for more human connections.

Listeners are using spoken word audio to improve themselves and their lives.

How The 2021 Spoken Word Audio Report Was Conducted

The Spoken Word Audio Report 2021 from NPR and Edison Research is based on a national online survey of 1,000 U.S. adults age 18 and older, conducted August 18-30, 2021. All respondents reported listening to spoken word audio in the last month..

Edison Research Share of Ear®: A total of 4,000+ respondents age 13+ completed an online or offline survey which was offered in English and Spanish. Data weighted to national U.S. population estimates.

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. Edison is also the leading provider of consumer exit polling and has conducted face-to-face research in almost every imaginable venue. For the 2021 U.S. elections, Edison Research provided exit polls and tabulated the national vote across every county in the United States for ABC News, CBS News, CNN, and NBC News.

About NPR

NPR, which is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, is widely known for its rigorous reporting and unsurpassed storytelling that connects 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 (, and now on smart speaker devices — where listeners can simply say, “Play NPR” to tune into their local Member station’s live stream. Users can also access NPR podcasts, NPR One, NPR News Now and the Visual Newscast on screened speakers. For more information, visit and follow NPR Extra on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Get the Latest Spoken Word Audio Report.

See Latest Report

More Insights from National Public Media

April 2020

Smart Audio Report: COVID-19 Drives Increased Use of Voice Assistants

The Spring 2020 Smart Audio Report explored changing habits during the COVID-19 pandemic, and found an increase in voice assistant use as people's routines were disrupted.

October 2020

NPR & Edison present: The 2020 Spoken Word Audio Report

Spoken word audio listening is growing at a dramatic rate, a new report from NPR and Edison Research finds. Since 2014, the share of time spent with spoken word audio has increased 20%. This shift comes at the expense of music, which saw its share of time decrease by 5% across the same period.

40% listening increase
December 2021

The Audio Indicator: The Spoken Word Audio Report Highlights Growth Among Diverse Audiences

Spoken word’s share of audio listening has increased 40% in the last seven years, and 8% in just the last year alone, demonstrating a growth that is accelerating.