Australian media to grow 5.8% annually

Internet and pay TV to lead the way; music will lag

SYDNEY -- The Australian media and entertainment market is expected to grow to $29 billion over the next five years despite the impact of interest-rate increases and high fuel prices, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers' latest Australian Media and Entertainment Outlook.

The 5.8% compound annual growth rate -- the market was worth AUS$23.5 billion in 2007 -- will be led by double-digit growth in the Internet and pay TV sectors -- to $6.2 billion and $3.5 billion, respectively. Both sectors continue to benefit from "tidal shifts in consumer attention," PwC said.

On the downside, the record industry's accelerating decline of physical sales is not being matched by the growth of digital sales, with forecast revenue shrinking to $723 million in 2012, below last year's $781 million.

Growth in all other sectors will continue to expand, "despite slowing economic conditions and the challenges of fragmenting audiences from platform surfing," said David Wiadrwoski, PwC's lead partner for technology, information, communications and entertainment.

Interactive games and filmed entertainment will prove resilient, forecast to grow at 5.4% to $773 million and 5.3% to $3.2 billion, respectively.

Free-to-air television is tipped to grow by 3.8% to $3.8 billion, and is seen as a safer bet for the immediate future. "Despite 4% decline in audiences, free to air TV is better placed to ride out market uncertainties as its still the largest aggregator of audiences," the report noted.

While pay TV and the Internet will dominate consumer spending, "media that can aggregate mass audiences will still remain a powerful force" in advertising spend, Wiadrowski said.

Advertising revenue in Australia is forecast to grow to $13.9 billion by 2012, while consumer spending will reach $14.6 billion.