Media and Entertainment Apps Break into 2018 with Record User Engagement

Last year was the first for which on-demand streaming represented the majority of audio consumption in the U.S. Spotify’s subscriber base has increased by 367% since 2015, and seven of the twenty top apps on the app store in 2017 fall under the media and entertainment umbrella. Push engagement and time in app trended upwards in the second half of 2017, setting the stage for a monumental entry into 2018 for media and entertainment apps.

We dug into our vertical benchmark data for the first half of 2018 to uncover where media and entertainment apps have seen significant wins and where the situation could still improve. These benchmarks include stats around app usage, retention, and the average performance of push notifications and in-app messaging campaigns.

Time in app for media and entertainment apps shows no signs of decline

When compared to all other verticals, media and entertainment apps see the greatest time in app from users mostly due to how long the average stream takes. In 2018, users have spent more time than they ever have before, beating last year’s record by 12%.


Fueling this dramatic rise are average session lengths and app launches, which have also reached new heights.


During the first six months of 2018, monthly session lengths reached a peak of seven minutes and 23 seconds, monthly app launches topped out at 16.6, and monthly time in app has made it to two hours and three minutes. This represents 2%, 10%, and 12% respective growth year over year.

Media app usage has peaked in early 2018 for a few reasons:

  1. Streaming is huge. Market disruptors such as Netflix, Spotify, and Twitch have made consuming entertainment lightning-fast. Meanwhile, cinema box office sales and revenues have seen better days, freeing up market space for streaming platforms.
  2. Sports events like the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and the 2018 World Cup have broken streaming records across platforms, partially due to the increase in quality that the technology has undergone in recent years.
  3. The experience of entertainment is more personalized than ever. Mobile devices can be taken anywhere and offer a private little world that consumers naturally love. Many streaming platforms also feature a recommendation system, keeping users engaged for hours.

Retention is stable year over year, but has seen decreases since the second half of 2017

People are spending record time streaming, reading, and consuming content in media and entertainment apps. However, they’ve become a bit more fickle.

Retention measures the percent of users who return to an app one month, two months, and three months after the app is downloaded. Churn is the opposite metric, measuring the percent of people who do not return to an app one month, two months, and three months after download. Due to the fleeting nature of the mobile business, apps can ride buzz-worthy waves but struggle to keep users on board once the excitement has faded. We found evidence of this effect in our media and entertainment data, where retention has remained steady since the first half of 2017 but has decreased since the second. The net change is slightly positive, but could definitely be improved.

Media and Entertainment retention has settled at 39%, 28%, and 23%, while churn has reached 61%, 52%, and 77%. Compare this to second half of last year’s 45%, 36%, and 32% retention and 55%, 64%, and 68% churn.  App marketers: focus on retaining users, even in the midst of an app use explosion such as the World Cup. Your users’ loyalty is your most valuable metric.

Users are more engaged with push notifications than they were in 2016, though opt-ins are trending downwards

On the other hand, push notifications are keeping users more engaged. Our push engagement metric, or the number of sessions users complete on average within seven days of receipt of a push, is peaking at 3.28 sessions per user for Android and 4.61 sessions per user for iOS. These numbers represent 14% and 38% increases year over year.

Opt-In rates have settled at 76% for Android apps and 31% for iOS apps (keep in mind that Android automatically opts users in, so its opt-in rate will typically be higher than iOS’s). This represents a decrease for iOS (45% to 31%), but a slight increase for Android (75% to 76%) since 2016. Users opt out of push if they find messages disengaging, so they may be developing a sense for what apps send their favorite pushes and are opting-in to receive them, in turn opting-out of pushes from other apps.

It makes sense that push engagement is increasing then, because only users who are engaged with pushes are opting-in. Think of it like a subtle nudge, though: the key is making sure that your messaging is unobtrusive. Our data shows that users like receiving targeted, relevant, dynamic, and enticing pushes, so try implementing some of these strategies today with Localytics. It’s never too late to start focusing on the end-user experience.


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