Video Streaming is the Highest Spending Smartphone App Category in the US

  • 75% of the respondents in our survey pay a monthly subscription for video streaming.
  • One in every five respondents spends $20 or more per month on music streaming.

 San Diego, Buenos Aires, London, New Delhi, Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul – July 22, 2020

Video streaming is the highest spending app category in the US. As many as 75% of the respondents in our latest Consumer Lens Survey pay a monthly subscription for video streaming. Monthly average spending in the US on video streaming is around $13. Students spend the highest, about 18% more than the overall average, followed by salaried employees. We have recently seen a global spike in the usage of different apps due to the COVID-19 lockdowns. The global pandemic forced many people to work from home and limit their outdoor activities. The US is one of the most affected countries with partially or fully enforced lockdowns in many areas. As a result, consumers are spending more time on entertainment through mobile devices.

Commenting on this trend, Counterpoint Research Senior Analyst Pavel Naiya said: “Lockdown has given an opportunity for the digital entertainment industry to thrive and expand more quickly than before. We have seen many leading video streaming platforms aggressively launching original content to attract more customers towards subscription plans. As a result, many trial customers are moving to a paid subscription plan. At the same time, many subscribed users are upgrading from the basic plan to premium streaming options (HD and UHD). This significant movement is pushing revenue of these streaming services more than the earlier projected growth. With more revenue coming in, video streaming platforms are expanding their search for new content. This new trend is providing low-budget productions a platform to get a bigger audience, which was not possible earlier.”

Mobile gaming and music streaming captured the second and third spots, respectively, in consumer app spending. The average spending on music streaming is $9 in the US. One in every five respondents spends $20 or more per month. Male respondents spend more on music apps than females. The highest spenders are in the 16-24 age group and are self-employed.

Exhibit 1: USA: Paid Consumers Penetration by Smartphone App Category

Counterpoint-US Paid Consumers Penetration by Smartphone App Category

Source: Counterpoint Consumer Lens

Counterpoint Research Associate Arushi Chawla elaborates on this new trend: “Music streaming platforms are differentiating themselves mainly on two parameters — original/exclusive content and overall user experience (like recommended streaming and better UI). As a result, more money is allocated to acquire new albums or get exclusive content deals. With more money coming in, we are seeing frequent albums being published by leading artists. At the same time, popular artists are getting more exclusive content deals.”

Chawla added: “Spending pattern for music streaming apps signifies that subscribers are using multiple paid platforms at the same time. This is mainly due to personalized music, genre preference, and exclusive fan following of different artists. As the music streaming universe is expanding, lesser-known indie artists are becoming mainstream. Instead of a full album, artistes are preferring releases of singles. This trend will further encourage a new-generation artiste to come on board and find the audience.”

Some of the other key findings of this study are:

  • Female respondents are spending more on mobile games as compared to males. Respondents who are not working are spending more on games as compared to any other category.
  • The average spending on social media and dating apps is $10 per month. About 35% of the self-employed spend $20 or more per month. Students are the second-highest spenders in this category.
  • Productivity apps are more popular among males and self-employed.
  • Digital newspapers and magazines mostly run on advertisements. As a result, average spending in this category is the lowest among all categories.

If you are interested in a detailed analysis of app spending and other smartphone consumer behavior, the full report is available for our subscribed clients on our research portal.


The Consumer Lens survey was conducted among smartphone users in seven countries during May-June 2020. The consumer opinions are drawn from a heterogeneous group in terms of age, monthly income, gender, and occupation. Data points were selected which abided with all the logical checks throughout the analysis section and gave a better representation of the ongoing smartphone trends and future purchase intentions.

Analyst Contacts:

Pavel Naiya

Arushi Chawla

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