Report: Digital Content Spending to Reach $432 Billion by 2026

Consumer consumption of digital entertainment is not slowing. A new study from Juniper Research found that the total market value of digital content will reach $432 billion by 2026, rising from $211 billion in 2021. This represents growth of 105% over the next five years — driven by gaming, premium VOD, pay-per-download, in‑app content spend, subscription streaming revenue and ad-supported VOD, among other distribution channels.

The new study identified digital games as the sector to generate the highest revenue by 2026, accounting for 45% of the global market value. It predicted that, as subscription services increase in popularity, digital games providers must differentiate their services through unique content.

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The report forecast that there will be more than 3.3 billion games users by 2026, rising from 2.7 billion in 2021, and urged games publishers to capitalize on this growth by offering subscriptions that leverage extensive content partnerships to provide regularly updated content libraries that justify ongoing subscription costs.

“Over half of digital content spend will come from smartphones,” Saidat Giwa-Osagie, co-author of the report, said in a statement. “However, as subscriptions become increasingly competitive, niche areas, such as augmented and virtual reality, will need to be considered when onboarding content partners.”

The report identified two key device channels anticipated to provide new revenue opportunities over the next five years: immersive reality headsets and smart speakers. Digital content revenue attributable to these device categories will grow from $2.4 billion in 2021 to $8.1 billion by 2026, representing growth of 275%.

North America and Europe will account for more than 50% of revenue from immersive reality headsets and smart speakers by 2026, and the report anticipated that high device ownership will result in these regions providing the most opportunities for monetization over the next five years.

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