Consumers shelled out $2.14 trillion on media content and technology globally in 2021, for a 6.7% year over year increase. That’s the quickest growth in five years according to PQ Media, and the second consecutive year of faster than normal annual growth.
PQ Media says the acceleration 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.
“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 the second half of 2021,” PQ Media CEO Patrick Quinn said in a statement.
PQ Media says 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, Quinn thinks that streaming audio growth is expected to slow in the coming years as it also begins to near saturation in top markets like the U.S.
It is not just audio either. 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.
Global consumer spending on overall media content grew 12% in 2021 to $855 billion, while total media-related tech spending rose four percent to $1.3 trillion.
Digital media content was the fastest-growing overall segment, surging 15% to $585 billion in 2021. Traditional media content made a sharp turnaround from a record decline in 2020 to post a five percent gain to $269 billion last year, fueled by a 17% increase in movie ticket sales, following the unprecedented 46% drop in 2020.
“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,” said Quinn. “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.”
PQ Media says the U.S. remained the largest consumer media and tech market with total spending of $500 billion in 2021. China ranked second ($290 billion), followed by Japan ($199 billion), India ($102 billion), and the U.K. ($100 billion).