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ERA confirms COVID shutdown resulted in subscriber uplift for digital services

By | Published on Friday 14 August 2020

Entertainment Retailers Association

The Entertainment Retailers Association has confirmed that the COVID-19 lockdown persuaded many UK consumers to sign-up to digital music, video and gaming services for the first time. And most of those who did so say that they will stay subscribed even once the COVID crisis is over.

This is all based on the regular market research that ERA undertakes, the most recent round of which began in late May, in the midst of full-on lockdown. Of the 2000 people surveyed, 10.5% had signed up to Disney’s new subscription service during lockdown, while 8.4% had newly signed up to Netflix and 5.6% to Amazon Prime. The uplift for music services was lower, with 4.2% subscribing to Spotify for the first time, 1.4% to YouTube Music and 1.2% to Amazon’s full-on music set-up.

Commenting on these stats, and the indication that new subscribers intend to stay subscribed, ERA CEO Kim Bayley said: “These are incredible results and show that digital services were not just a distress purchase during lockdown, but are continuing to transform Britain’s entertainment habits for the long term. The significant investment by digital services in convenience, range and accessibility are clearly paying dividends”.

Elsewhere, ERA also asked consumers about physical entertainment products and live music. 41% of respondents said they sometimes buy physical music, video or gaming products on the high street and were obviously prevented from doing so for a time by lockdown.

However, 80% of those people said they expected to spend the same amount or more with traditional entertainment retailers now the high street is open again. Though it was younger consumers that were most likely to say that shutdown would impact on their high street purchases long-term.

On the live side, respondents were asked what kinds of live entertainment they attended prior to COVID, and whether they intended to do so again post-COVID. In many cases, a concerning number of those who attended such things in the past said they were unlikely to do so in the future.

For example, 53.9% said they went to gigs and concerts in the past, but only 23.6% said they were likely to post COVID.

Now, that trend is unlikely to be representative of the more avid gig-goer, and may have been influenced by COVID concerns being at their highest when the survey was conducted. But nevertheless, any drop off of interest in live entertainment among more mainstream consumers is concerning for the live sector.