The Old Switcheroo: 93% Of Media Subscriptions Are At Risk Every Month, Study Says

A staggering 93% of media subscribers are at risk of cancellation every month, according to a study by PCH Consumer Insights, the new research platform at Publishers Clearing House. 

They are likely to move, swap or cancel their platform subscriptions with every billing cycle. 

For instance, 31% will downgrade their subscriptions to pay less and get more ads. But only a fourth will pay more to see fewer ads. 

These preferences vary with age: 32% of those in the 45-54 cohort are likely to welcome free content with maximum ads, vs. 30% of Gen Z and millennials. 

At the same time, 46% of consumers age 55% prefer a mix of lower fees and some ads, versus 29% of those in the 18-34 group. 

In general, 64% of younger consumers are willing to pay for media, versus 49% of those age 45+.

Higher income households are also more willing to pay—58.9% of those with income of $150,000+, compared to 50.2% of those with lower income. 



However, households with the lowest income are least likely to pay more, and most likely to look for savings.

Those with $75k-$249k are “almost as likely to downgrade tiers and save, and (even more importantly) the most likely to switch tiers and platforms freely, depending on what media they most want.” 

Meanwhile, many consumers are trying to reduce their expenses. They plan to: 

  • Subscribe to less and switch as needed—30%
  • Cut subscriptions to bare necessities—29%
  • Subscribe to a few faves and stick with them—23%
  • Reassess subscriptions every month—11%
  • Stay subscribed to all my current services—7%

The study notes that, to be clear, all this does not mean 93% of subscribers will cancel. “It does mean that 93% of media subscribers will think about canceling, every month,” it says.  

On a disquieting note for brands, 35% of consumers dislike the use of their data to personalize ads, while 11% see ad personalization as a benefit. Another 54% have no preference.

"Our research shows that subscription-based media platforms face a new era of uncertainty as consumers reassess their entertainment options each month,” states Smriti Sharma, Head of Consumer Insights at Publishers Clearing House. 

Sharma continues, "We are now living in an age of ‘nomading,’ where consumers are more willing to switch between subscriptions, pay more to get fewer ads, or pay less for more ads. Regardless of income or age, consumers are actively searching for ways to get the most out of their entertainment subscriptions.”

PCH Consumer Insights surveyed 42,072 consumers.



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