Worldwide, consumers spent $2.012 trillion on media content and technology in 2020, a 6.1 percent increase from 2019 driven by COVID-19 lockdowns, according to a new report from PQ Media, “Global Consumer Spending on Media Forecast 2020-24.”
In 2020, total consumer spending on media content rose six percent to $777.39 billion, while total spend on media technology grew 6.1 percent to $1.235 trillion. The surge marks the fastest expansion in both global and US consumer media and technology spending in five years, fueled by increased spending on streaming audio and video subscriptions, as well as digital and console video game software and hardware.
PQ Media estimates that consumer spend on digital media increased 10.4 percent in 2020 to $1.432 trillion. Of the 28 digital media categories, the fastest growing was digital audio subscription services, ballooning 40 percent to $30.98 billion globally—an increase largely driven by the popularity of podcasts. Spotify added 74 million new subscribers in 2020 following its acquisition of ‘The Ringer’ and exclusive rights to ‘The Joe Rogan Experience.’ Plus, Amazon and Audible added over 100,000 new and original podcast channels and shows with celebrities.
Over-the-top (OTT) video services, including streaming video subscriptions and SVOD programming, was the second-fastest growing digital media category, surging 30 percent. With consumers stuck at home for longer periods, Netflix added 26 million global subscribers in the first half of 2020 compared to just 12 million in the first half of 2019. Disney+ gained nearly 75 million subscribers by the end of the year.
Digital media content devices generated $440.5 billion, making it the largest of the nine major digital and traditional media platform categories. Digital content subscription services grew nearly 21 percent.
Consumer spend on traditional film and home video plunged 46 percent to $43.05 billion. PQ Media predicts it will never again reach the level it did in 2019–$85 billion.
Movie ticket sales will soon see an uptick only due to the staggered premieres of films that were forced to stop production during the pandemic. Some studios including Disney and Warner Media were wise to pivot, launching several hit blockbusters via OTT video services. Disney+ debuted Mulan and Soul while Warner Media released Wonder Woman ’84 on HBO Max in addition to theaters.
Even before the launch of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X in Q4, digital video game software and hardware spending on multiplayer online games, in-game microtransactions and traditional console-based gaming all jumped.
Among the 14 traditional media and tech categories, cable TV subscriptions remained the largest at $220.6 billion, followed by print books and directories, which was the fastest growing in the category—up by nearly eight percent.
US consumers spent the most on media, a total of $472.16 billion, followed by China, Japan and India.