Spoken Word Audio Sounding More Like Music

EXTRA Apropos the panel discussion we hosted at last month’s RightsTech Summit on the evolving role of podcasts and audio originals in the movie and streaming video ecosystem, here’s another interesting data point, courtesy of Edison Research’s annual spoken-word audio report, which was released this week: spoken-word audio listening is increasingly digital and mobile. According to the report, more than one-third of all spoke-word listening was done via mobile device in 2022, compared to only 25% in 2019. Another 25% was accounted for by computers, smart speakers or connected TVs. Less than 40% occurred via traditional AM/FM radio.

The shift to mobile is particularly pronounced among Generation Z listeners, among whom more than 60% of all spoken-word listening is via mobile device, up from 15% among the same age cohort (13-24 year-olds) in 2014. Among Millennials nearly half of such listening is via mobile.

Music listening, of course, has long been dominated by digital sources, notwithstanding the recent resurgence of vinyl, the majority of it via personal mobile device.

Here’s IFPI’s breakdown for 2022:

Spoken-word audio listening, in other words, increasingly resembles music listening in terms of consumer behavior. That likely reflects, at least in part, moves by Apple, Spotify and other music-based streaming services to integrate podcasts and audiobooks into their platforms, where music-listening habits prevail.

For spoken-word audio rightsholders, therefore, tracking trends in music listening behavior could be the best indicator of how and where podcast and audiobook listening is heading.

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