How Consumers Feel About News and Streaming Apps in 2018

Eighty-five percent of Americans get their news via mobile. And streaming apps — think Netflix, Spotify, SoundCloud, Pandora, and YouTube — are among the most popular app categories. In fact, these streaming apps made Apple’s list of most popular apps in 2017.

But are mobile marketers in these industries living up to the expectations of their app users? To find out, we conducted a survey with smartphone users who use these types of apps.

App usage of millennials and bordering generations increased the most

Thirty-six percent of survey participants said their usage of these apps increased a great deal since January 2017 because there’s more news in the world and content to consume. The remaining participants said their usage increased a little (44%) or not at all (20%).

Of the 36% who said their usage increased a great deal, more than two thirds of respondents were between the ages of 18 and 44. And the age group with the most people who classified their usage this way was the 25-34 age group (millennials).


Age grouping aside, a total of 80% of people said their usage of these apps increased at least a little. This verifies news and streaming apps are effectively engaging people through mobile channels. Case in point: Spotify’s powerful mobile app that helped it go from 10+ to 60+ million subscribers in three years and stay ahead of Apple Music.

Breaking news notifications more useful than other notification types

In another part of our consumer survey, we asked participants about their perception of push notifications. One of the questions we asked them was which types of push notifications made them use an app more or less. The most upvoted notification types were those triggered by stated preferences (over those triggered by location and in-app behavior).

For this industry-specific section of the survey, we asked participants another question about push notifications: Which types of notifications sent by news and streaming apps are more or less likely to get you to open and use the app?

 Notification Types - Impact on App Usage More likely Less likely No difference
Breaking news - other 74.92% 7.69% 17.39%
Notifications reminding me about security 65.54% 9.46% 25.00%
Breaking news - political 63.98% 12.80% 23.22%
Breaking news - sports 63.24% 10.29% 26.47%
Alerts about availability of new content (episodes, shows, music) 59.32% 13.56% 27.12%
Notifications reminding me about subscription offers 37.86% 33.57% 28.57%


Respondents favored notifications around breaking news, which makes sense when 85% of Americans get their news via mobile.

A significant amount of respondents also said notifications about new content from streaming services were useful. However, users demand that notifications from streaming services be even more personalized.

When asked what more they want from news and streaming apps, the most upvoted requests were “Seeing the content I care about most when I open the app” and “Only receiving notifications about content/topics I care about”.

Top-voted feature requests Upvote percentage
When I open the app, I want to first see only the content I care most about 27.39%
I want to only receive notifications about content/topics I care about 25.44%
I want the app to show more real-time content 15.19%
I want the app to stop sending me so many breaking news notifications 13.25%
I want the app to understand my location and deliver specific content/notifications based on it 7.77%
I want the app to send recommendations for additional content based on my viewing habits 7.24%
I want to view more video 3.71%

Takeaways for marketers of news and streaming apps

  • Campaigns targeted at later generations might be worth testing. According to this survey, there’s a noticeable drop-off (over 10%) of increased app usage for later generations. Millennials and people in bordering generations grew up using apps, but others could be confused about the value these apps offer. Creating age-specific messaging that fills value gaps could yield positive results for new user acquisition campaigns.
  • Expectations continue to move toward personalization. A simple push notification that included a user’s name was once enough to boost engagement. Now the entire message needs to be relevant to the end user. Investing in the right mobile app marketing platform can give you the data and insights necessary to make this happen.

Survey details

This survey was conducted by Qualtrics on behalf of Localytics. It collected responses from 566 smartphone users based in the United States who said they use apps in the "media and entertainment" category. There was a fairly even split between women (281) and men (285).

If you would like more granularity into the responses, let us know in the comments below. We're happy to provide it.

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