Digital entertainment in Canada - Statistics & Facts

When most people picture Canada, certain things come to mind: the red maple leaf embedded in the country’s flag, its history of great hockey teams, and the vast northern wilderness, to name a few. However, Canada is rarely acknowledged for its position as one of the global leaders in digital media and entertainment, and has been comparatively slow in its progress towards digitization. That said, Canadian people are becoming more and more technologically integrated.

With this increased engagement comes massive changes within the entertainment market. E-books and audiobooks are shaking up the publishing industry, music streaming platforms such as Spotify are challenging the survival of physical music sales, and video on demand services such as Netflix and Hulu are pushing cable providers to quickly adapt to changing consumer preferences. Digital forms of entertainment and media have become the new standard in the Great White North.

Media companies throughout the country are observing this trend towards digital forms of entertainment and altering their business strategies in an attempt to keep up with the changing technological landscape. Around one third of young Canadians state that they either prefer e-books over print books or have no preference between the two mediums. Publishing companies are taking notice: in a 2017 survey, 74 percent of publishing house representatives stated that customer demand was a major reason for their company’s development of e-books. A similar phenomenon is taking place in the music industry. Around 34 percent of Canadian teens currently pay for a music streaming subscription, and an additional 20 percent expect to start paying for one within the next six months. Album sales are decreasing drastically in both physical and digital formats, further indicating that on-demand music streaming is the way of the future.

The TV and video industry adapted the quickest to the initial trend towards digital integration, with digital cable becoming the most prevalent form of television service in the country, a position that it continues to hold today. But that isn’t to say that digital cable providers are safe from the recent changes in consumer preferences. In fact, the increase in demand for on-the-go content has meant that older formats are struggling to keep up. An estimated 406 thousand consumers are expected to cut their cable TV subscriptions in 2018 alone, and a growing percentage of Canadians are reporting that they watch TV exclusively online. As of 2016, 67 percent of TV consumers in Canada said that they were using Netflix as an alternative source for traditional TV.

The games industry has been affected by the trend towards on-the-go access; mobile games account for a larger percentage of total game revenue each year. Canadian video game consumers are increasingly interested in being able to access their content on the move, and they are proving it with their wallets. Mobile games amassed over 300 million U.S. dollars in revenue in Canada in 2016, a figure which dwarfed those of PC and console gaming. With the popularity of smartphones and ease of access to mobile games, it is unsurprising that 48 percent of men and 53 percent of women in Canada play mobile games at least once per month.

Overall, it is clear that things are changing in the Canadian entertainment and media industry. Young generations, especially teenagers, are adopting new technologies rapidly and guiding the future of media and entertainment in the country. Media producers and companies who wish to survive will surely have to acknowledge and adapt to the ever-complex technological demands of this new generation of Canadian consumer.

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Digital entertainment and media in Canada

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