Consumer Trends in the Media Industry

The impact of the cost of living crisis

We analyzed millions of social data points relating to media and entertainment to find out how consumers are discussing the sector.
Originally Published by Brandwatch.com

It’s been over two years since the pandemic began, and the world is in a very different place. Consumer confidence has been shaky since the beginning, from saving money back in 2020 to spending recovering in 2021. While some consumers may be feeling a little better than they were in 2020 financially, their insecurities haven’t entirely disappeared. With the cost of living going up worldwide, people are yet again becoming cost-conscious, especially when it comes to paying for “extras” like streaming and subscription services that kept many occupied during the long months of lockdowns.

We looked into what’s changed in how consumers talked about their spending relating to media and entertainment in 2022 and whether the rising cost of living has played a hand in it. 

In this report, we’ve covered the following:


Below we’ll expand more on each of these topics. You can also jump directly to each section by tapping the above links.

The impact of the cost of living crisis

How has the conversation around the cost of living changed in the last two years?

Our research showed a strong upward trend in mentions, illustrating a growing conversation around the topic.

We looked into mentions between November 1 2021 and May 1 2022, and the number of mentions containing ‘cost of living’ reached 16.86m, an increase of 228% compared to the previous period. Meanwhile, over 5m unique authors discussed the climbing costs of living (120% more when compared to the previous six-month period).

We also looked into how consumers emoted in conversations about the cost of living. Looking at the chart below, it’s clear that the issue has caused a variety of emotions in consumers, with sadness and anger dominating the conversation and the emotion of disgust growing exponentially (up 155% when compared to the previous six-month period we studied).

Unexpectedly, joyful emotions seemed to be on the rise too, and we couldn’t ignore it. It turns out some consumers have tried to look on the bright side of things, like the author below who, among other reasons, talking about how the cost of living in some areas was countered by the fact that people aren’t so restricted by location anymore.

How is rising inflation affecting our ability to enjoy entertainment?

Subscription cancelations

In one of our recent Brandwatch Bulletins, we talked about a growing conversation around subscription cancelations. 

With the help of Brandwatch Consumer Research, we found that while there might be a seasonal pattern affecting the subscription cancelation conversation (you can see spikes in late spring and summertime), there was a significant increase in the volume of mentions in January 2022.

Unexpectedly, joyful emotions seemed to be on the rise too, and we couldn’t ignore it. It turns out some consumers have tried to look on the bright side of things, like the author below who, among other reasons, talking about how the cost of living in some areas was countered by the fact that people aren’t so restricted by location anymore.

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Another interesting discovery from our research on streaming is the ever-present influence of K-pop on every sector, or rather, K-pop fans who obsessively encouraged others to continue streaming to make sure their idols secure top places in the charts.

And if and when the cost of streaming posed a barrier to achieving a common goal, many fans engaged in streaming parties and all sorts of collaborations to help lift those costs.

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Are we still binge-watching?

We created a query to track mentions of “binge-watching” in conversations and, according to Brandwatch data, there has been a steady decrease in mention volume over time starting in January 2021.

There were a few exceptions, of course. Several tweets on behalf of BTS were a huge talking point for fans, contributing to the peak in mentions seen on the chart in March 2020 with the below tweet boldly stating: “Binge-watch mood is ON.”

This peak in mention volume also happened a week before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic worldwide – when the news fatigue was catching up with consumers.

While overall, ‘binge-watching’ is mentioned in conversations less and less, that doesn’t necessarily mean consumers are shifting away from TV. 

With gloomy economic forecasts, many consumers are looking to save their money where they can, like sharing passwords. This activity that reportedly costs streaming services over $2 billion in annual lost revenue. Keeping in mind the money-saving mindset of consumers and the ongoing decrease in binge-watching, subscription services brands will need to get creative to keep winning in the fight for customers.

The final word

The increase in the number of channels for entertainment in recent years has led to a surplus of options for consumers. Brands that are in the media and entertainment space need to listen to consumer needs closely in order to retain customers and attract new audiences.

Case Studies

Here are some practical examples of how companies use Brandwatch for day to day community management.

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