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How paid subscriptions are irreversibly altering the global media landscape


The impact of Netflix alone on the production and distribution of media around the world has been enormous.

Legacy media providers are now inclined to drop a whole series on their on-demand platforms all at once to satisfy people’s desire to binge it all at once, while film distribution houses begin to compete with the platform itself bringing blockbusters to the big screen.

However, it’s not just visual media which has been influenced by subscription options. A large portion of people now pay for ad-free music streaming, while still more pay to get past the paywalls of news websites.

YouGov’s upcoming webinar, based on the findings of their International Media Consumption 2021 Report, will take an in-depth look at the ‘super streamer’, with exclusive findings on what media buyers can learn.

The webinar will feature insights from YouGov’s Global Head of Media, Jules Newby, who is joined by Ewan Douglas from Channel 4 and Stuart Lunn from Havas Media. To sign up to attend, click here, or you can download the report below.

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Rapid changes in subscription media

The report took a look at how people have changed how they watch, listen, read and socialise since March 2020. It’s set to be repeated yearly to see how these changes develop and see what has been altered for good.

It looks more in-depth at trends in subscriptions, and what individuals’ perceptions of subscription services around the world are.

Defying the assumption that adverts are a serious point of issue for consumers, it finds that worldwide the majority of people agree ‘it’s fair we have to watch ads in exchange for free content’. On average in the UK, just under 60% of people agree, while less than 20% disagree.

However, people are clearly willing to pay for the opportunity to enjoy ad-free, exclusive content. In Britain, more than 80% of people have access to a paid subscription service, while 50% of those who have signed up for a pay-monthly service have more than one subscription.

This, the report finds, tends to be driven by the younger generations. When broken down by age, it’s generally 18 to 34-year-olds who have signed up to more than one.

What are people signing up to?

With people around the world spending more time than ever at home and directing their disposable income elsewhere, it’s understandable that certain subscription options would succeed. In 2020, the most chosen channel for subscriptions was film and TV – unsurprising given Netflix’s ubiquity.

In the UK, over a third of people pay for a movie and TV subscription. At the other end of the spectrum, subscriptions to magazines, sport and audiobooks sits at between 3% and 20%.

In the grand scheme of things, paying for platforms like Netflix is also outcompeting paid-for services like satellite TV.

Whether consumers prefer to pay for ad-free content is a different question. As the report shows, people’s preferences around the world vary drastically – almost half of people in Mexico and India prefer the option, but only around 22% of British consumers say the same thing.

It’ll be that category of modern individuals whose media consumption choices rely on streaming and subscriptions which will be investigated and discussed at the webinar on March 25th.

The webinar – which you can learn more about here – begins at 11:30am and will ask some pressing questions based on the report, with conclusions for both media owners and marketers.

Download the International Media Consumption 2021 Report below for your chance to learn more about how the popularity of subscription services has changed over the last year and all around the world, and explore the wider media consumption landscape.


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