7 Numbers to Know About the Global Subscription Economy

June 15, 2021
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Alejandro Cantarero, Ph.D.
Flowers in various stages of bloom

The subscription economy has skyrocketed to the point that it seems like everything is a subscription.  On one side, the growth of subscriptions is driving benefits, new services, and more options for consumers and businesses.  On the other side, subscription fatigue, often driven by customer frustration from there not being enough perceived value in the product, is driving customer unhappiness and churn for businesses.

One thing that is clear is the subscription economy is big business.  Below, we’ll take a look at a few key numbers you should know about the booming subscription economy.

Subscription Economy to Reach $1.5T USD

A recent report from UBS Wealth Management estimates that the subscription economy with reach 1.5 trillion USD by 2025.  That’s more than double the addressable market size in 2020.

Source: UBS

The US Consumes 53% of all Digital Subscriptions

The United States consumes a majority of all digital subscriptions worldwide. The next closest market is Europe at 21% followed by China at 14%. For more details, see the full UBS report.

Mobile App Spending to Reach $270B

Mobile app spending is one of the first places we often think of when it comes to subscription businesses. Mobile devices have become integral to our lives and that is reflected in our spending habits. Data from Sensor Tower shows continued large growth in mobile spending. In the last year, the top 100 subscription apps’ revenue was up 34% alone.

Software as a Service Doubles to $307B

Software as a Service (SaaS) is another top-of-mind subscription sector after mobile. 2020 was a big year for IPOs in the tech sector and SaaS in particular.

Recent reports see revenues in SaaS doubling over the next 5 years to reach US $307B by 2026.

Largest Category: e-Commerce Subscriptions at $478B

Companies in the e-commerce subscription market are set to eclipse every other category of subscription revenue over the next few years. From clothes to snacks from Japan, this space covers everything you could ever want to buy. Amazon alone had $25.21 billion in subscription revenue in 2020.

Recent research available on UnivDatos shows the e-Commerce subscription market growing to $478B USD with a 63% CAGR from 2019.

Streaming Services to Grow to $155B

While streaming services aren’t the largest category of subscription services, they are the first ones that most of us think about.  

Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) services are the most popular category of streaming services. Netflix spent $17 billion on content in 2020, Disney+ crossed 100M subscribers 16 months after its launch, and with all the new entrants from HBO Max to Discovery+, Netflix’s market share dropped by 31%.

With so many huge companies fighting for our attention, it is no surprise that this sector of the subscription economy continues to see growth. Research estimates that by 2025 SVOD revenue grow to $100 billion with the number of subscriptions topping 1.1 billion.

Streaming audio including podcasts and music is also a growing category not to be ignored, with Spotify and giants like Apple, Google (through YouTube), and Amazon all in the mix.  Grand View Research has streaming audio growing to $55 billion USD by 2025 and up to $76.9 billion USD by 2027.

Subscription and Billing Management - $10.5B

Last but not least, the business of running a subscription business is booming.  This includes subscription management companies like publicly traded Zuora, payments infrastructure giant Stripe, and recent entrants like Nami ML that provide a platform to create better subscription experiences.

How big is this space and how many companies are fighting for a slice of the subscription industry pie? Business software and review site G2 is tracking over 100 companies in 4 different categories in the subscription ecosystem, including Subscription Management, Subscription Billing, Subscription Revenue Management, and Subscription Analytics. Take a look at the breakdown below.

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Alejandro Cantarero, Ph.D.

Alejandro Cantarero is the CTO of Nami ML. He has built and run data teams at startups and large enterprises. Most recently he was the VP of Data at two large media companies, the Los Angeles Times and Tribune Publishing Company.

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"We spent hours researching the best ways to implement subscriptions and after many failed attempts we found Nami. We were able to go live with subscriptions in our Apple and Android apps in a matter of days."
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Brian Pedone
Founder
Quiet Punch
Quiet Punch
"Nami helped us achieve a cross-platform solution for managing and sellingsubscriptions on Apple and Google. The Nami platform was flexible enough to handleour business requirements for in-app purchasing, allowing us to focus on our client'score domain and domain logic.”
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"Nami helped us achieve a cross-platform solution for managing and selling subscriptions on Apple and Google. The Nami platform was flexible enough to handle our business requirements for in-app purchasing, allowing us to focus on our client's core domain and domain logic."
Melody Morgan
Director, Engineering
Diamond
Diamond
"We spent hours researching the best ways to implement subscriptions and after many failed attempts we found Nami. We were able to go live with subscriptions in our Apple and Android apps in a matter of days."
Brian Pedone
Founder
Quiet Punch
Quiet Punch
"It took a couple of hours to incorporate their easy to use SDK. Nami provides a monetization machine learning solution, a paywall displaying what a user can purchase, and a whole suite of other useful features. As a result, it saved me development cycles so I could focus on other important things."
Mark Lapasa
Android Developer
Toronto App Factory
Toronto App Factory
"After spending a few days trying to implement subscriptions, I found Nami ML. I was able to complete in-app subscriptions within less than 3 hours."
Tanin Rojanapiansatith
iOS Developer
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