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Study Reveals What It Costs To Be Entertained in America

By Assaf - 01/12/2023
people dancing at a live music festival with money raining down

If you work long, hard hours at a demanding job, you know how important it is to have fun. But fun isn’t always free—in fact, entertainment is one of the top things Americans spend their money on.

To find out exactly where those entertainment dollars go, we surveyed over 2,000 Americans on 13 different spending categories. We looked at entertainment spending habits, how much it costs to be entertained in each state, and, given recent economic issues, how inflation affected entertainment spending as compared to last year.

This post details the activities different states enjoy most. Read on to find out whether your state prefers to get its entertainment through a relaxing night of playing Solitaire online or a weekend out on the town.

Key Findings

  • In 2022, 3 in 5 Americans (59%) declined some activities with friends or family because of their budget.

  • 71% say inflation impacted their entertainment budget in 2022.

  • Americans plan to spend less in 2023 on their top spending category in 2022: restaurants, bars, and clubs.

  • Utah spent more on entertainment than any other state.

Entertainment Categories

From sporting events and live shows to cooking classes, books, and gaming, everyone has a different definition of entertainment. Some people prefer a quiet night at home binge-watching their favorite series or playing games online, while others would rather attend a concert or spend a night out clubbing with friends. Still others may mix it up with a little of both to fill their entertainment tank.

To make sure we covered various preferences, we included 13 different entertainment categories in our survey, which can be broken down into three groups: in-person entertainment, media, and special events.

Here are the activities we considered:

  • In-person entertainment

    • Restaurants, bars, clubs

    • Movie theater visits

    • Gambling

    • Classes, workshops (e.g. dance, cooking)

  • Media

    • Streaming services, live TV

    • Books (digital or print)

    • Gaming

    • Music streaming, purchases

    • News, magazine subscriptions (digital or print)

  • Special events

    • Amusement parks, museums, zoos

    • Concerts, festivals

    • Sporting events

    • Shows (e.g. theater, comedy)

States That Spend the Most on Entertainment

Utah (#1) topped our list of states that spend the most on entertainment and can certainly boast about being home to the Mighty Five national parks that provide a lot of outdoor options. Colorado (#2) and California (#3) also came as no surprise because both states offer so many options based on the categories surveyed.

New York, on the other hand, only made it to #8 and was outdone in entertainment by Maine (#4) and followed closely by a state planted firmly in the Midwest, Illinois ($10). Here’s our list of the top 10 most entertained states (with scores out of 100, based on the percentage of people who spend in each of the 13 categories):

  1. Utah: 98.70

  2. Colorado: 94.17

  3. California: 93.27

  4. Maine: 90.00

  5. Alabama: 88.82

  6. Connecticut: 88.20

  7. Nevada: 87.55

  8. New York: 86.83

  9. Maryland: 84.90

  10. Illinois and Virginia (tied): 84.18

Not only is Utah the most entertained state, but Utah has a lot of variety when it come to entertainment. It topped the list in 5 out of the 13 entertainment categories, with Utah residents spending the most of any state on:

  • Streaming services, live TV

  • Music streaming, purchases

  • Sporting events

  • Movie theater visits

  • Shows (e.g. theater, comedy)

map of the most and least entertained states

On the other side of things, our survey also revealed which states spend the least on entertainment. Most states that spend the least on entertainment can be found in the Midwest and the South with just Arizona (#4) and New Hampshire (#10) breaking the mold.

Missouri tops our list as the least entertained state, and you can see how the rest stack up. Here’s our bottom 10 list of the least entertained states (with scores out of 100, based on the percentage of people who spend in each of the 13 categories):

  1. Missouri: 69.44

  2. Mississippi: 71.10

  3. Kentucky: 72.06

  4. Arizona: 72.94

  5. Iowa: 73.13

  6. Louisiana: 74.06

  7. Georgia: 74.44

  8. Arkansas: 75.00

  9. Tennessee: 75.29

  10. New Hampshire: 75.75

Households Spend Over $2,000 on Entertainment Per Year

Although nearly 3 in 5 Americans (59%) have had to decline doing something with friends or family because of their budgets, our respondents definitely prioritize entertainment dollars on streaming services and live TV because it’s the last place they plan to cut spending. Still, entertainment costs money, and we took a look at what they spent over the last year.

The average American household spends $2,628 on entertainment per year. Entertainment spending increases when there are more people in the household. For example, single Americans spend around $2,007 per year, while couples spend around $2,812 and families spend an average $2,984.

It also depends on what state they reside in. Some states spend more than the national average, sometimes by a significant margin. South Carolina (averaging $3,949 per household), Colorado ($3,745 per household), Nebraska ($3,711 per household), and Florida ($3,661 per household) all spend over $1,000 more than the national average.

We also found one state that spends significantly less on entertainment than the national average—about $1,000 less. In addition to being #3 on our list for the least entertained state and the fifth hardest state to be entertained in without spending money, Kentucky also spends the lowest amount on entertainment of any state, with an average of $1,643 per household.

how much it costs to be entertained and where Americans spend most

When it comes to where Americans spend most of their entertainment dollars, we were curious which categories would top the list. Of our 13 categories, we found what American households spent the most on over the past year. The the top 5 forms of entertainment included:

  1. Restaurants, bars, clubs

  2. Streaming services, live TV

  3. Books (digital or print)

  4. Gaming

  5. Music streaming, purchases

Where Americans Cut Spending in 2022

The state of the economy impacts many areas of our lives, and we’ve all felt the impact of inflation this last year. As we tighten our purse strings to afford essentials like food, utilities, and gas, unnecessary expenses like entertainment tend to fall to the wayside.

Of Americans we surveyed, 71% say inflation has impacted their entertainment budget over the past year. It’s especially felt by families and couples, with 74% of those respondents saying inflation impacted their entertainment spending as compared with 64% of singles.

However, inflation hasn’t stopped Americans from entertaining themselves—inflation has just changed how we spend our money. According to our survey, here’s what the average American spent less on than they usually would this past year:

  1. Movie theater visits (81%)

  2. Concerts, festivals (74%)

  3. Sporting events (69%)

  4. Shows (e.g. theater, comedy) (64%)

  5. Amusement parks, museums, zoos (57%)

As Americans opt for different, more affordable or worthwhile forms of entertainment, spending in other categories increased. Here’s what the average American spent more on than they normally would this past year:

  1. Streaming services, live TV (35%)

  2. Restaurants, bars, clubs (34%)

  3. Gambling (30%)

  4. Concerts, festivals (29%)

  5. Classes, workshops (e.g. dance, cooking) (28%)

How Americans Plan to Adjust Entertainment Spending in 2023

In 2023, Americans plan to spend less on the form of entertainment they spent the most on in 2022: restaurants, bars, and clubs. Here are the top 5 areas of entertainment Americans plan to spend less on in the new year:

entertainment categories Americans plan to spend less on in 2023

Though the old saying goes, “the best things in life are free,” sometimes it just feels better to be able to kick back, relax, and watch a movie. Entertainment spending might seem a little excessive for the budget-conscious, but we all need to have a little fun once in a while, and we all deserve time to just enjoy our lives.

But having fun doesn’t have to break the bank. If you’re looking for an easy way to entertain yourself for free, SolitaireBliss has you covered. With 30+ different games like Solitaire to play for free online or on the mobile app, you can always have something fun to do, anytime, anywhere.


From December 8, 2022 to December 20, 2022, we surveyed 2,290 Americans about their entertainment spending habits in 13 categories: Restaurants, bars, clubs, streaming services, live TV, books (digital or print), gaming, music streaming, purchases, movie theater visits, amusement parks, museums, zoos, concerts, festivals, gambling, sporting events, news, magazine subscriptions (digital or print), shows (e.g. theater, comedy), classes, workshops (e.g. dance, cooking). Respondents ranged in age from 18 to 76 years old, and were 53% female, 44% male and 3% non-binary.

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