Dolby: 72% Uptick in U.S. Consumer Home Entertainment Spending in 2020

U.S. consumers have increased their purchase and rental of home entertainment by 72% in 2020, according to a new global survey by Dolby Laboratories that illustrates a significant shift in consumer entertainment behavior.

Led by Gen Z and millennials, consumers are spending more than ever on entertainment, which is fueled by the desire for human connection, especially during the ongoing pandemic, according to Dolby. People are also willing to spend more on premium subscriptions in order to receive a better quality experience.

Dolby found spending on content has increased in the last six months, with millennials in the U.S. increasing spending by an average of 38%. Most global consumers have increased how much they spent on content since the start of the year, including 55% in France, 72% in the U.S., 94% in China, and 97% in India.

The survey, in partnership with Wakefield Research, polled 5,000 respondents from China, France, India, and the U.S. — examining consumption behavior, device buying decisions, and new habits being formed in the wake of this unprecedented year. With more time than ever before to watch and engage with entertainment, consumers are accelerating their interest in immersive content and new experiences.

With this increase in spending, consumers are willing to pay more for a premium subscription to receive enhanced audiovisual experiences, with 77% of total respondents indicating they would pay more for better picture or sound quality because it impacts how they connect with content. In fact, 64% of respondents stated they had upgraded at least one streaming service to a premium subscription within the past six months.

“Despite all the challenges of this past year, this study has illustrated the power of entertainment in bringing us together with those that are most important to us,” John Couling, SVP Commercial Partnerships at Dolby Laboratories, said in a statement.

Other survey findings include the fact that 86% of global respondents connected with family and friends virtually with home entertainment together over the last six months. This included activities like talking on the phone while watching the same content (45% of global respondents), texting while watching the same content (44%), video chatting while watching the same content (43%), as well as engaging in live chats while watching streaming videos (41%).

For a significant majority of people, within the past six months was the first time they have ever participated in virtual shared experiences while enjoying entertainment — with 87% of respondents noting this was their first time.

While plans to upgrade traditional home entertainment devices remain strong, consumers are also planning to upgrade their mobile viewing experience, which is fueled by a majority of consumers who used their smartphone, tablet, or PC as their primary device for consuming entertainment over the past few months.

About 82% of respondents plan to purchase a new device to upgrade their entertainment viewing experience in the next six months. Another 64% plan to purchase a device specifically to upgrade their living room entertainment experience (including a new TV, soundbar, home theater speakers, receiver, or streaming device).

Millennials are the most likely to make a living room upgrade at 73%, compared with 68% of Gen Xers, 58% of Gen Zers, and 50% of Boomers.
More than 4 in 5 (81%) of those who have paid to upgrade their streaming services to premium also plan to improve their living room entertainment experience.

While U.S. households have more devices than ever, the television still plays a huge role — particularly with older generations. This is true in every market, but particularly in the U.S., where 65% of Boomers say that television is their primary entertainment device; 52% of French Boomers say the same.

Meanwhile, 60% of total respondents used their smartphone, tablet, or PC as their primary device for entertainment over the past six months and 44% of total respondents indicated that they plan to upgrade their mobile device in the next six months to improve their viewing experience.

“Ultimately, we expect the desire for more human connection to continue in the future and immersive experiences can help fulfill this demand,” added John Couling, SVP  of commercial partnerships at Dolby Laboratories. “Just as entertainment drives cultural conversation, that conversation drives connection across the globe, and we are seeing connections grow stronger every day through elevated entertainment experiences.”