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U.S. Subscription App Revenue Grew 21% in 2019 to $4.6 Billion

Revenue from the top 100 subscription apps in the U.S. totaled $4.6 billion in 2019, Sensor Tower Store Intelligence data reveals.

Subscription App Revenue Grew 21% in 2019 to $4.6 Billion

Consumers in the United States spent more than $4.6 billion in the top 100 non-game mobile apps offering subscriptions during 2019, new research based on Sensor Tower Store Intelligence data shows. This figure represents 21 percent year-over-year growth from the $3.8 billion generated by the top 100 subscription apps in the U.S. during 2018.


Our research found that revenue generated by these apps in 2019 accounted for 19 percent of the $24 billion accumulated through user spending for the entire U.S mobile market, which includes the App Store and Google Play. Of the 100 highest grossing non-game apps across both stores last year, we found that 96 offered subscription options.

Tinder topped the revenue charts for subscription-based apps and was responsible for 10 percent of the spending in the top 100. While the dating app features some single-use in-app purchases (IAPs), its most popular offerings are monthly recurring subscriptions: Tinder Gold at $14.99 and Tinder Plus at $9.99.

Store Breakdown

When looking at the U.S. App Store specifically, we found that users spent $3.6 billion in the top 100 subscription apps on that platform during 2019, representing 16 percent Y/Y growth from the $3.1 billion spent in 2018. The 2019 total was 24 percent of the $15.3 billion the store generated from user spending overall last year. The chart below illustrates how this amount, along with the total for Google Play's unique cohort of top 100 subscription apps, has grown over time. Note that these totals are distinct from the amount generated by the overall top 100 subscription apps, which is shown in the first chart above.


YouTube was the App Store subscription app leader, with its most popular in-app purchase being legacy payments made through existing subscriptions to YouTube Red (later renamed to YouTube Premium, which is its second-most popular purchase). During 2019, it crossed the $1 billion milestone through in-app user spending alone.


Meanwhile, U.S. Google Play users spent more than $1.1 billion in the top 100 grossing subscription apps on that platform for 2019. Although only accounting for 13 percent of the $8.7 billion spent on the platform overall, spending in these apps represented a notable 42 percent Y/Y increase from the $775 million spent in 2018. Pandora, which offers three tiers of subscriptions, came out top for Google Play with nearly 20 percent of spending among the top 100 apps, while Google One followed with 15 percent.

The Future of In-App Subscriptions

Our data shows that the subscription model has gained prominence in recent years, becoming an increasingly favorable means of monetization for a wide variety of historically IAP-driven apps. This is due in part to the automatic billing nature of subscriptions, which offer convenience by renewing weekly, monthly, or annually without interruption to a user’s experience with an app.

The appearance of cloud storage app Google One among 2019’s 10 highest earning subscription apps is a noteworthy change at the top of the charts. In previous years, the upper rankings have been the sole domain of dating and entertainment apps, indicating there’s still ample room for success within more types of subscription-based apps, particularly in games and other categories not currently represented in the top 10. There’s also considerable growth potential for subscription apps outside the top 10; our analysis found that while spending in the top 10 grew 10 percent Y/Y in 2019, apps ranked No. 11 to No. 100 increased 35 percent over the same period.

As publishers find new ways to employ subscriptions in their apps, we’ll likely see the monetization model evolve, and the both the growth rate and share of revenue these apps represent increase even further over time.

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Katie Williams

Written by: Katie Williams, Mobile Insights Strategist

Date: January 2020