Consumers are trimming their spending on traditional subscriptions like newspapers and magazines -- but they aren't scaling back their subscriptions to entertainment content, says the NPD Group's latest tracking study.
14 percent of U.S. consumers have a subscription to an online game like World of Warcraft
, the study says, as overall monthly spending on entertainment subscriptions rose 7 percent year over year to $115 per capita.
In particular, newer kinds of subscription-based services, new technologies and products like Internet service, satellite radio and fiber-optic television are drawing consumer dollars, says NPD, based on the familiar principle that in lean times people seek entertainment value per dollar.
For example, the smartphone boom means mobile data plan subscriptions rose to 9 percent of the U.S. consumer base versus 6 percent last year.
Although print media still enjoys more subscribers than online games, the number of newspaper subscribers fell by 2 percent year over year to 29 percent, as of August 2009, however, and magazines fell from 43 to 41 percent.
“Despite concerns that the recession would cause consumers to reduce spending on entertainment subscription services, most forms of subscription entertainment are doing just fine," says NPD analyst Russ Crupnick, entertainment industry analyst for NPD.
"Consumers are clearly looking to the value offered by entertainment subscriptions and like what they get for their money; plus, new technologies and products have helped bolster data plans and other newer kinds of subscription-based services."