Spending on Mobile Subscription Apps Soared in 2021

March 24, 2022

This article is included in these additional categories:

Customer-Centric | Demographics & Audiences | Digital | Global & Regional | Mobile Phone | North America | Spending Trends | Tablet

Subscriptions are quite the rage these days, drawing audiences from video to retail, audio and gaming, among many other areas. Recent data from Sensor Tower shows that mobile users the world over are spending more on subscriptions, which are a growing force in the in-app purchases realm.

This past year, the top 100 non-game subscription apps comprised roughly 14% of the total ($131.6 billion) that people spent on in-app purchases last year for both non-game apps and mobile games. This 14% share represents a significant climb from 11.7% the year earlier. All told, the top 100 non-game subscription-based apps enjoyed a revenue boost of 41% year-over-year, from $13 billion to $18.3 billion.

Within the US, growth was even faster: the $8.5 billion that people in the US spent on the top 100 non-game mobile apps offering subscriptions last year was a 44% increase from $5.9 billion in 2020, which itself had been up 28% from 2019.

Sticking with the US, that $8.5 billion figure for the top subscription apps was 21% of the total $40.7 billion spent on in-app purchases, meaning that subscriptions represented an even larger chunk of the pie in the US than globally.

Most Spending is Occurring on the App Store

Globally, subscription-based app downloads generated more spending on the App Store than on Google Play, per the report. People spent $13.5 billion on the top 100 subscription apps on the App Store last year, almost 3 times more than the $4.8 billion they spent on Google Play. It’s true, though, that spending grew more for these apps on Google Play (+78% year-over-year) than on the App Store (+31%).

A similar trend played out in the US. The $6 billion in US spending in the top 100 non-game subscription apps on the App Store was more than double the $2.5 billion spent on Google Play. However, spending growth was more rapid on Google Play (+78% year-over-year) than on the App Store (+33%).

Within the US, Google One was the top subscription app last year by spending, followed by Disney+, YouTube, HBO Max, and Tinder. The presence of video streaming apps at the top of the list isn’t surprising given that people are increasingly stacking their video subscriptions.

YouTube was the top subscription app in the US on the App Store by revenue, followed by Tinder, Disney+, HBO Max, and Hulu. On Google Play, Google One topped the list, ahead of Disney+, HBO Max, Pandora, and Twitch.

Globally, YouTube led the way, ahead of Tinder, reflecting the top 2 positions on the App Store. On Google Play, it was Google One that drew the most spending among subscription apps, ahead of Piccoma.

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