The average U.S. subscriber now spends nearly $1,000 a year on streaming — dismal state of subscriptions landscape laid bare in new survey

Apple TV
(Image credit: Future)

A staggering new survey into the spending habits of American streamers has revealed that on average, customers are spending nearly $1,000 a year on subscriptions. 

As reported by ZDNet, a new Bango survey titled ‘Subscription Wars 2024’ has revealed that “the average American subscriber pays $924 yearly for subscriptions,” $77 a month. Moreover, a quarter of those surveyed (5,000 people) pay more than $100 a month, while 5% pay an eye-watering $200 a month. 

Beyond the exorbitant overall costs of streaming and subscriptions, the survey also reveals some of the ways consumers are changing their spending and possibly how fragmented the market has become. 57% of the 5,000 people surveyed “have canceled a subscription due to recent price hikes,” while more than a third reported upgrading a subscription after an ad-supported version launched. Despite rising costs and ongoing cost of living pressures, 67% “still feel like they can't afford all the subscriptions they would like.” 

The American Stream 

One of the most unfortunate new trends in the streaming industry is the introduction of ad-supported tiers. Just this year, Amazon Prime Video started serving adverts between shows and movies, even for paying customers. Naturally, users can bypass this mild inconvenience with a new ad-free tier that costs another $36 a year. Streaming was always supposed to be the antithesis of cable TV, with an absence of advertising one of the biggest draws of any streaming service. Participants in the survey agree, with 78% stating that any “paid-for” subscription service “should never display ads.”

Many of us likely have a main, core subscription we couldn’t do without, and Bango’s survey confirms it, revealing that “Three-quarters of subscribers have at least one subscription they will never cancel or pause, no matter how often they switch between others.” Other interesting findings show that companies like Netflix clamping down on password sharing is drawing in more subscribers, rather than pushing them away. 35% reported “now paying for a service that they previously accessed for free.” 

With all of these different services harder to keep track of than ever, more than 70% reported a desire for “a single content hub for subscriptions” and just less than 70% want “the ability to pay for multiple subscriptions via one bill.” 

While some changes in the streaming landscape (more services, fluctuating prices) are inevitable, the introduction of ad-supported tiers remains a particular sore spot with consumers. Reflecting on the exorbitant prices of services like Netflix makes Apple’s humble Apple TV Plus streaming service look like an epic value play by comparison even after recent price hikes. Perhaps more broadly, however, streamers and subscribers need stronger consumer protections to shield them from arbitrary price increases, and significant changes to their terms.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9

  • Wotchered
    Don’t Americans read or go outdoors any more ? A grand ! for what ?
  • Ledsteplin
    Wotchered said:
    Don’t Americans read or go outdoors any more ? A grand ! for what ?

    It can add up fast, depending on what you get.

    TV+ - $120
    Netflix - $276
    Paramount+ - $144
    YouTube TV - $876 (Xfinity even more)
  • Wotchered
    Good Grief ! I gave my television to my daughter ten years ago,because of the decreasing quality of provided programming. I rely on Youtube and Kindle for my entertainment, £324.
    But I would have those anyway.
    Aksherly your costs are higher, considering the cost of the hardware and data costs ? I assume people are paying for a TV/ mini Cinema and a huge data bill ?
  • EdwinG
    I'll do the math on my TV/subscription budget. These include GST and PST.

    TV+ - $14.94/month
    Nebula - $5.65/month
    F1 TV Pro - $9.62/month

    CBC Gem - $0.00/month
    ICI Tou.Tv - $0.00/month
    CTV Go - $0.00/month
    Global Go - $0.00/month
    Noovo - $0.00/month
    YouTube - $0.00/month
    OTA TV - $0.00/month

    Total: $30.21

    Regular cable bill (that I do not have): $28.74/month.
    Maybe I really should go back to cable 😅

    In reality, I unsubscribed from Netflix ($19.05/month) and Disney+ ($13.84/month) when they stopped having content that interests me.