57% of younger adults ramp up smartphone use to stream video, study says



  • U.S. consumers spend an average of $20.78 a month on app subscriptions, with most people having four subscriptions, according to study results announced by mobile ad company Adjust. Among the most popular subscription-based apps, 31% of downloads are for streaming services, followed by 9% for gaming and 4% for news.

  • People ages 25 to 34 are the biggest spenders, setting aside $25.85 a month on average for app subscriptions, followed by people ages 35 to 44 ($22.20), 16 to 24 ($21.41), 45 to 54 ($21.23) and 55 or older ($13.97), Adjust found.

  • In a reflection of how the pandemic has impacted mobile app subscription behaviors, about 57% of younger adults said they had used their smartphones more often to stream video while social distancing. More than a quarter of millennials and Generation Z consumers said they had stopped paying for other services in order to buy a subscription to a mobile app compared to 17.9% of consumers overall.


Younger adults tend to be the most willing to pay for app subscriptions, which is a mixed blessing for different segments of the mobile industry. For brands seeking to reach those younger consumers, their willingness to pay for apps may mean that they’re less likely to see advertising. For app developers that charge subscription fees for an ad-free experience, such as game developers and streaming platforms, the willingness of younger consumers to buy a subscription is positive.

Adjust surveyed 1,003 TV andstreaming customers between the ages of 16 and 60 at the end of September. The study breaks out streaming and on-demand entertainment services into a different category of subscriptions, with consumers willing to pay more for these.

U.S. consumers spend an average of $33.58 a month on streaming and on-demand entertainment services, with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney+ and YouTube TV being the favorites. Those services don’t carry advertising — except for Hulu, which has a less expensive ad-supported tier — limiting the ability of marketers to reach their subscribers. AppleTV+ and WarnerMedia’s HBO Max also are ad-free, but HBO Max plans to start selling advertising next year.

However, other research indicates that marketers can reach the growing audience for advertising on video-on-demand services like NBCUniversal’s Peacock, ViacomCBS’s Pluto TV, Fox’s Tubi and Fandango’s Vudu, which also sells movies and TV shows. The services show advertising, but are free to viewers. The growth in these services suggests that millions of homebound viewers are hungry for more video content, and many of them have reached the limit on their video subscription budgets.