Global Consumer Media Content & Tech Spend Grew 6.7% to $2.14T in 2021, Fastest Growth in 5 Years, Driven by Digital Audio, Video, Games & Rebound in Movie Ticket Sales

PQ Media’s Global Consumer Spending on Media Forecast 2021-2025

While the overall growth in consumer media & tech spend in 2021 was a strong acceleration from the solid increase in 2020, we expect growth to begin decelerating in 2022 and lose more steam during the 2023-2025 period, as pandemic-driven forces behind the 2020 gain began to fade in 2H 2021.

Global consumer spending on media content and technology grew at an accelerated 6.7% in 2021 to $2.139 trillion, the second consecutive year of faster annual growth and the strongest growth in consumer media & tech expenditures in five years, according to a new report by PQ Media, the leading provider of media econometrics. The accelerated expansion was fueled by double-digit increases in spending on digital audio, streaming video, digital news, online gaming services, and in-theater movie tickets, which rebounded sharply from the record decline in 2020 caused by the pandemic lockdowns.

The strong gain in 2021 was an unexpectedly sharp upswing from the pandemic-fueled 4.7% growth in overall consumer media & tech spending in 2020, which snapped a four-year streak of decelerating growth, according to PQ Media’s Global Consumer Spending on Media Forecast 2021-2025. The 2020 expansion was driven by surging expenditures on digital media content & tech, particularly streaming video, digital audio, and digital and console-based videogame software and hardware, as the lockdowns forced consumers to stay home where they binged on various digital entertainment media.

The double-digit rebound in movie theater ticket sales in 2021 combined with a full year of consumer outlays for Microsoft’s new Xbox Series X/S, Sony’s PlayStation 5, and related slate of new console videogame releases were key drivers of the accelerated growth in global end-user spend on media & tech. Global consumer spend on overall media content grew 11.6% in 2021 to $854.96 billion, while total media-related tech spend rose 3.7% to $1.284 trillion.

Global consumer spend on digital media content & tech increased 8.1% in 2021 to $1.549 trillion, while consumer spend on traditional media content & tech was up 3% to $590.55 billion, with the prime movers being continued double-digit gains in digital media content spending, particularly streaming video, digital audio, online gaming, and digital news subscriptions and single unit downloads.

As such, digital media content was the fastest-growing overall segment, surging 15.1% to $585.49 billion in 2021, while end-user outlays for traditional media content made a sharp turnaround from the record decline in 2020 to post a 4.6% gain to $269.47 billion last year, fueled by a 17% increase in movie ticket sales, following the unprecedented 46% drop in 2020.

Nevertheless, while in-theater ticket sales rallied in 2021 and are expected to post solid growth in 2022, the new report indicates that physical movie ticket spending, as well as the entire film & home DVD category, will never again reach the high-water mark of nearly $85 billion in 2019, as PQ Media CEO Patrick Quinn explained at a recent media industry conference (click this link to see video:

“While the overall gain in consumer media and technology spending in 2021 was a strong acceleration from the 4.7% increase in 2020, we expect growth to begin decelerating in 2022 and lose even more steam during the 2023-2025 period, as many of the pandemic-triggered forces that sparked the consumer spending surge in 2020 began to fade in 2H 2021,” said PQ Media CEO Patrick Quinn. “Our research indicates the pandemic briefly interrupted key secular trends in 2020 and 1H 2021, but that this was simply a short-term disruption of long-term patterns that have resumed in 2022 and will continue through 2025. Among these are decelerating growth or declines in major traditional and digital media segments impacted by device penetration reaching saturation in top global markets, such as smartphones, wireless access plans, computer tablets, cable TV and broadband internet access.”

While streaming video subscriptions continue to post gains of over 20% in most major global markets, PQ Media expects to see decelerating gains through 2025, as streaming video services experience churn for the first time due to price increases and competition for consumers’ discretionary time and budgets. Podcast subscription growth in developed markets and expansion into new markets via voice translation tech, like iHeartMedia’s deal with Veritone, are driving up digital audio spend, which ranks among the fastest-growing media in all major markets. However, streaming audio growth is expected to slow in the forecast period, as it also begins nearing saturation in top markets, Quinn added.

The US remained the largest consumer media & tech market with total spending of $500.59 billion in 2021, followed by China ($290.44 billion), Japan ($198.72 billion), India ($101.77 billion) and the UK ($100.09 billion). Russia was the fastest growing market, up 9.1%, followed by South Africa (+9%), South Korea (+8%), India (+7.2%) and the UK (+7.1%), according to the Global Consumer Spending on Media Forecast 2021-2025.

Global consumers spent an average of $372.08 on all media content & tech in 2021, up 5.9%, driven by average consumer spending of $269.37 on digital content & tech, a 7.4% gain. Average expenditures on traditional content & tech increased 2.3% to $102.71. The US ranked third worldwide with average consumer spend of $1,494.31 in 2021, trailing Japan ($1,593.71) and the UK ($1,515.38).

About the Report:

PQ Media’s 9th annual Global Consumer Spending on Media Forecast 2021-2025 delivers the most comprehensive and actionable econometric data and analysis covering consumer spending on digital and traditional media content and technology, including 2 overall spending sectors (media content and technology); 5 total spending segments (unit purchases, content subscriptions, access, devices, and software); and 28 digital and 14 traditional content and technology categories. Click the link above to download FREE reports samples.

About PQ Media:

PQ Media delivers intelligent data and analysis to the world’s leading media and technology organizations via syndicated market intelligence reports and custom drill-down research. PQ Media publishes the annual Global Media Forecast Series, a three-report series that drills deep into each industry KPI, including the Global Consumer Spending on Media Forecast; Global Advertising & Marketing Spending Forecast; and Global Consumer Media Usage Forecast. Click the link above to download FREE samples from each report and details about the Special Three-Report Bundle License.

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