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MPA: Global Theatrical, Home Entertainment, and Pay TV Market Rebounded to $328.2B in 2021

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(Image credit: Momentive)

WASHINGTON D.C. — The global theatrical and home entertainment market rebounded in 2021, surpassing pre-pandemic levels and reaching $99.7 billion in consumer spending according to a new report from the Motion Picture Association (MPA), which also reported increases in streaming subscriptions and production of TV series and films. 

When the pay TV market is included, the combined figure for consumer spending reached $328.2 billion, matching the pre-pandemic 2019 record high, the MPA said. 

While both the international and U.S./Canada theatrical markets grew substantially compared to 2020, streaming continued to drive the growth of the overall industry, MPA researchers reported. Subscriptions to streaming services reached 1.3 billion globally, marking a 14% increase over 2020.

The MPA reported that about 80% of U.S. adults watch movies and shows/series via traditional television services and online subscription services, the highest proportion of the home/mobile viewing methods.

More than half (53%) of U.S. adults reported that their viewing of movies or shows/series via an online subscription service increased during the COVID-19 pandemic period, while 42% reported that their viewing via pay TV increased.

The report also found a notable increase in production for both film and TV.  

In the U.S. in 2021, there were more than 1,800 original series released, including nearly 560 scripted original series, a 15% increase from 2020, when many series skipped seasons due to pandemic-related production delays. The increase in 2021 was driven by original series released on online services, which reached nearly 700 series in 2021. 

There were nearly 180 original films exclusive to online services released in 2021, comparable to 2020 and an over 90% increase from 2017, the report found. 

In the United States, the combined theatrical and home/mobile entertainment market was $36.8 billion in 2021, a 14% increase compared to 2020, but notably overtaking the 2019 figure of $36.1 billion.

The new data comes from the MPA’s “2021 Theatrical and Home Entertainment Market Environment Report,” (THEME), which includes in-depth data into how the film, television, and streaming industry performed during the year, as well as audience demographic information.

“As the Motion Picture Association marks its 100th anniversary this year, our latest THEME Report underscores how resilient and dynamic our industry is, and I couldn’t be more optimistic about the future of our business,” said Charles Rivkin, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association. “We are just getting started in writing the next chapter of our industry as streaming continues to boom, theaters are rebounding, and the overall global market for our entertainment product recovers and breaks records. Our members are the most innovative companies on earth. Their capacity to bring people together through the timeless magic of extraordinary stories will continue to captivate billions of viewers over the next 100 years.”

Additional data points from the report included: 

  • The number of subscriptions to streaming services around the world increased to 1.3 billion (up from 1.2 billion in 2020) and to 353.2 million in the United States, both representing a 14% increase from 2020.
  • Online services also produced 179 original films released exclusively to their platforms in 2021, comparable to 2020 but representing an almost 60 percent increase from 2019.
  • In 2021, the global home/mobile entertainment market reached $78.5 billion, representing a 14% increase compared to 2020 and a 41% increase compared to 2019. In the United States, it increased to $32.3 billion last year. This growth was driven by the digital market which increased 11% in the U.S. and 24% internationally.
  • Production increased in 2021 due largely to the early and effective implementation of the industry’s strict health and safety protocols. 943 films entered production during 2021, an increase of 111% compared to 2020.
  • More than 85% of children and more than 55% of adults watch movies and/or television shows on mobile devices.
  • The Hispanic/Latino ethnicity category is overrepresented relative to their share of the U.S. population in terms of daily viewers of several viewing methods.
  • On the theatrical side, the global box office, which includes all films released in each country, was $21.3 billion in 2021, up 81% from 2020 but remained below pre-pandemic levels. The international box office, outside the U.S. and Canada, accounted for 79% of the global market. Due to COVID-19 impacts on the theatrical market, including varying theater closures and reopenings, comparing the box offices of different countries remains challenging. Under those parameters, the top three box office markets outside the U.S. and Canada were China ($7.3 billion, including online ticketing fees), Japan ($1.5 billion), and the U.K. ($0.8 billion).
  • The U.S./Canada box office was $4.5 billion in 2021, up 105% since 2020. Although the market was still lower than pre-pandemic levels, the number of tickets sold (470 million) was up 100% compared to 2020. 

The full report is available here (opens in new tab)

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.