Login is restricted to DCN Publisher Members. If you are a DCN Member and don't have an account, register here.

Digital Content Next logo


Research / Insights on current and emerging industry topics

New DCN consumer research: Digital Media Subscription Tracking

May 23, 2023 | By Rande Price, Research VP – DCN
dcn digital media subscription tracking header image

Full research report for DCN members only. Register to or login to download (on desktop see top right corner of page, on mobile the top center). Download buttons will appear at the top and bottom of the page.

DCN Members can access the video of today’s virtual event – a review of the study’s topline findings here.

Digital media companies recognize the important role of subscription-based models in monetizing content effectively. Understanding consumer behavior to support this business model is crucial for attracting and retaining subscribers, optimizing user experiences, and staying competitive. DCN’s new consumer subscription study: Digital Media Subscription Tracking offers a deep dive into consumer subscription behavior and covers a wide range of digital subscription services, including SVOD, MVPD, vMVPD, digital newspapers, magazines, and audio – and usage metrics for AVOD and FAST services. The report is DCN members only, please login or register to access (on desktop see top right corner, on mobile the top center).

The Q1 2023 report is available to all DCN members; all subsequent waves will be exclusive to DCN Benchmark participants as part of their Benchmark’s suite of reports offering timely market intelligence each quarter.

This quarterly research, conducted with Screen Engine/ASI, will identify trends and track market penetration, shifts, and growth in the rapidly changing media landscape. The first wave, Q1 2023, surveyed 1,893 adults 18+, representing the U.S. Census population by age, gender, race, and ethnicity. The sample was online-only and represented approximately 89% of U.S. households and adults 18+ with access to the Internet.

Category penetration

One of the study’s key findings is that the U.S. had more than one billion paid subscriptions in Q1 2023 across the digital media landscape – SVOD, MVPD, vMVPD, digital newspapers, magazines, and audio. This indicates that almost all online U.S. households (97%) subscribe to one or more digital media subscription services. On average, households subscribe to approximately nine different pay services when combining all seven digital media services measured in this study.

The SVOD service category has the most subscribers, with nearly a 60% share of total pay subscriptions, followed by MVPDs and vMVPDs, digital newspapers, digital magazines, and digital audio services. The study also indicates that 29% of all subscribers plan to add one or more services next quarter, while 26% plan to cancel one or more, with MVPDs potentially continuing to decline and vMVPD subscriptions potentially increasing.

The study also highlights that free, “ad-only” AVOD and FAST services will continue attracting more traditional media consumers, who tend to be older and watch more linear TV. SVOD with ads and AVOD services will provide a much-needed incremental and growing revenue stream, especially as growth for pay-only services that don’t carry ads slow their subscriber penetration.

Demographic appeal

The demographic profile of digital media service subscribers shows that the heaviest concentration of subscribers for all services combined are slightly younger (P18-34), more male (M18-34), more diverse (Hispanic and African American), family-oriented (parents with children under 18), higher income (households with income $150K+) and slightly more educated. This demographic profile is extremely attractive for advertisers, making the launch of more digital “hybrid” (pay + ads) services likely.

The Digital Media Subscription Tracking study offers digital content companies essential consumer research to support new revenue models and pricing strategies to stay competitive and retain their subscribers.

Please reach out to me at [email protected] with questions about the Digital Media Subscription Tracking study.

Full research report for DCN members only. Register to or login to download (on desktop see top right corner of page, on mobile the top center). Download buttons will appear at the top and bottom of the page.

DCN Members can also access an on-demand video of the study results.