2021 Entertainment Consumer Spend Dips Slightly, But Should Rise

Are entertainment consumers getting a good deal -- or just cutting back a little?

The NPD Group says spending on all “screens” entertainment content at-home, in-cinemas, etc -- declined by 1% in the first half of the year versus 2020. Average spending declined to $242 in the first half of 2021 versus $246 in the first half of 2020.

No doubt there is less spending from out-of-home viewing of movies, which started in mid-March 2020, when the pandemic forced virtually all U.S. cinemas to close. This comes against a comparison to the first two and half months of 2020, which pretty much operated at a normal and expected pace.

At the same time, NPD notes there was a sharp rise in Q2 2020 -- due to more at-home entertainment. So spending -- at least out of home -- climbed some. That said, perhaps year-over-year changes were minimal.

Looking more narrowly at at-home activity, NPD notes there was a 4% improvement in time spent watching TV shows and movies. In the first half of this year, viewing hours from January through June 2021 made up nearly one-third (30%) of the time U.S. consumers spent entertaining “themselves,” according to NPD.



Guessing that means getting little to no help from outside, out-of-home sources. The report is based on an online survey of 5,000 U.S. consumers 2+ conducted in June 2021. Participants in this survey were recruited from two groups: adults 18 years and older, and children/teens, age 2 to 17, recruited via parent surrogates.

At the same time, the survey also contradicted, in part, other sources like Nielsen about home streaming. For the first six months of the year, subscription video on demand “engagement” has pulled back some. The reason is that consumers are now headed out of the house -- eating, traveling and doing other activities versus a year ago. It says time spent on “experiences” has more than doubled, up 104%.

This dynamic may not last long-term. Trends suggest U.S. consumers -- especially when it comes to spending -- will continue to have a big appetite for entertainment -- in or out of the home.

Shiny objects -- whether from new devices, platforms or highly touted movie/TV content from well-known franchises -- will always grab our eye.

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