Last year, entertainment and book apps comprised 18 percent of downloads and 49 percent of consumer spend on apps worldwide, according to data.ai’s latest report, State of Media and Entertainment: Mobile 2022.
Before delving into the findings on consumer spend and behavior across video streaming, music streaming and audio and comic book apps, here’s how data.ai defines the app subgenres:
Video streaming is divided into the genres of books and reference and entertainment. Books and reference apps are those that offer content through book readers, reference books, textbooks and dictionaries. This genre is further divided into the subgenres of audiobooks, comics, eBooks and other books and reference.
Entertainment apps are divided into the subgenres of game service, karaoke, live streaming, media player, music and audio, musical instruments, other entertainment, over-the-top (OTT apps are where users can stream TV shows, movies, comedy specials, and live television online or offline), radio, short videos, ticket service and video sharing.
Consumer Spend And Downloads
Despite the fact that time spent on OTT apps declined by 20 percent year-over-year (YOY), these app downloads exceeded 2.2 billion as consumer spend broke records and surpassed $6.3 billion worldwide in 2021.
Short video apps experienced a 38 percent increase in time spent YOY, primarily due to Chinese-based apps. TikTok and Kwai experienced a 490 percent and 1,115 percent increase, respectively, in their total time spent in-app worldwide since 2019, according to data.ai.
Based on consumer spend in 2021, OTT apps secured first place, followed by live streaming, short videos, music and audio and comics. But short video apps may soon knock OTT from the top spot as these apps continue offering innovative features. The topmost downloaded apps with video-playing capabilities by subgenre were short videos, OTT, video sharing and music and audio. Ticket service apps came in last.
Gen Z app users prefer OTT apps that feature anime content while Gen X and baby boomers prefer mobile-forced apps. Crunchyroll, for example, was one of the most likely OTT apps to be used by Gen Z throughout every region that data.ai analyzed with the exception of South Korea and Japan given that homegrown players are more popular there.
On the other hand, Gen X and baby boomers were most likely to use mobile-forced OTT services, including NBC and Tele 7 programme TV. Among millennials, Plex was popular in Australia, Canada, the UK and the US.
The top OTT apps in the US by monthly active users (MAU) according to likelihood of use were Crunchyroll and FunimationNow for Gen Z; Redbox and Plex for millennials; and TV Guide Mobile and DIRECTV for Gen X and baby boomers. In these lists, Netflix appeared in fifth place for Gen Z users and interestingly, wasn’t in the top 10 for millennials, Gen X or baby boomers.
As exclusive content, strategically timed releases and overseas expansion fuel growth and competition in the video streaming sector, Netflix is set to exceed 1 million downloads in over 60 countries this year. Additionally, despite the fact that Disney+ launched on mobile seven years after Amazon Prime Video, the two apps are close rivals. To attract more viewers, Disney+ just announced a less expensive, ad-supported subscription tier in the US that is slated to launch later in 2022 and in other countries in 2023.
In the US, the top 10 OTT apps by average MAU in Q4 2021 were Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock TV, Tubi TV, Google Play Movies and TV, Paramount+ and Pluto.tv. Globally during the same period, Netflix remained in first place, followed by MX Player, Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar, Google Play Movies and TV, Disney+, JioTV, HBO Max, Hulu and Zee5.
In the US, the top five live streaming entertainment apps by average MAU in Q4 2021 were Twitch, Bigo Live, V-Live Broadcasting, Tango Live and Reality by Wright Flyer. Worldwide, the top three positions remained the same as Booyah Live took fourth place and Omlet Arcade landed in fifth place.
In Q4 2021, the US downloaded between 35 and 40 million music and audio entertainment apps. Globally, that figure almost reached 500 million in the same period.
Radio entertainment app downloads in the US during Q4 2021 were just shy of 8 million as the world downloaded more than 80 million—a 33 percent YOY increase. India was the largest market for radio apps with a 200 percent YOY increase in Q4 2021. Pocket FM and JioSaavn accounted for 97 percent of all radio app downloads in India and 44 percent worldwide in that period.
Hinting at possible market saturation, music and audio app downloads remained relatively flat around the world. Most markets outside of APAC actually witnessed declines in 2021, the report found. China experienced a 43 percent increase in downloads YOY, mostly due to the increasing popularity of apps like NetEase Cloud Music and QQ Music.
As the music and audio subgenre of apps approach market saturation, data.ai suggests publishers consider other rapidly-growing subgenres to increase reach.
The top 10 radio entertainment apps by downloads in the US in Q4 2021 were iHeartRadio, TuneIn Radio, Simple Radio by Streema, Google Podcasts, Anchor FM, Radio FM, myTuner Radio, Podbean, Radio FM AM and Stitcher, in that order. Globally, the numbers tell a different story—TuneIn Radio comes in first place, followed by Simple Radio by Streema, Anchor FM and iHeartRadio, to name a few.
The top 10 music and audio apps by downloads in the US in Q4 2021 were Spotify, Pandora Music, SoundCloud, YouTube Music, Shazam, Amazon Music, Musi, SiriusXM, Audiomack and Current Rewards. Globally, Spotify remained in the lead, followed by Resso, Shazam, YouTube Music and JioSaavn.
User Acquisition: Paid Search Ads
Spotify prioritized paid search ads on branded keywords (including misspellings) versus generic terms, as did other apps across other genres. For example, Amazon and TikTok bid heavily on the “Spotify” keyword in the US and the UK. And in Mexico, Amazon’s keyword share of voice (SOV) exceeded Spotify’s by eight times and surpassed 58 percent in December 2021.
Despite its aim to maintain global dominance, Spotify may see pressure in Japan where Amazon Music, Amazon Prime Video, TikTok and Line Music bid on its branded term. As the report notes, defending your own keywords and offensively targeting competitive branded terms is vital for success.
Audiobooks And Comic Books Apps
Global consumer spend on comic book apps grew by 120 percent since 2019, reaching $1.8 billion—2.5 times faster than audiobooks. Additionally, the global comic book app industry grew by 26 percent as the US, Brazil and China experienced a 32 percent, 38 percent and 14 percent increase in 2021. Last year also witnessed Americans spending roughly $200 million on audiobook apps.
Ebooks experienced the largest YOY increase in user engagement when compared to other book subgenres. Webnovel apps such as MoboReader saw an increase in average sessions per user across several APAC markets in Q4 2021, as religious texts such as Bible Home grew in engagement.
Within the subgenre of comic apps, user engagement in Australia and the US surpassed Japan’s in Q4 2021—which highlighted a niche but highly engaged growth opportunity in western markets, notes data.ai.
Highlighting the importance of mobile, Piccoma chief executive officer Jay Kim told data.ai that the app outgrew the manga market growth in 2021 by more than double, at a growth rate of 97 percent YOY. He said, “We understand that it was a result based on our strategy to reach not only existing manga fans but to the overall content users on smartphones.”
In the US and Canada, Audible experienced an increase in usage with other entertainment apps during mid-2021. One explanation for this may be consumers’ gradually increasing comfort with car and RV travel for extended road trips after years of lockdowns.
The top 10 audiobook apps by consumer spend in the US in Q4 2021 were Audible, Wehear Audiobooks and Fiction, Pocket FM and Hay House Unlimited Audio. Globally in second place was Zimalaya FM and in third place was Spiritual Wealth Club.
The top 10 comic apps by consumer spend in the US in Q4 2021 were Line Webtoon, Tapas, TappyToon and Pocket Comics. Around the world, Piccoma led the way as Line Manga and Line Webtoon trailed it.