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Australian Entertainment & Media Outlook 2021-2025

Australia's leading industry forecasting report into consumer and advertising spend across 12 segments

Welcome to the 20th edition of PwC’s annual Australian Entertainment and Media Outlook. 

Our 19th edition, published in November 2020, was a special report that looked at the immediate impact of the most concentrated and rapid period of change within the entertainment and media industry in recent memory. Given uncertainty as a result of COVID-19, we introduced a range of forecasts - based on a positive, gradual and negative recovery - rather than a single forecast. This approach provided our audience with a range of potential outcomes, based on Australia’s progress against factors largely outside the control of the industry, including the timing of the vaccine roll out, ongoing use of lockdowns to manage contagion, the impact of the end to JobKeeper, and the return of business and consumer confidence.

At the time, we envisaged that this year’s edition would be a return to normal reporting. However, with the vaccine rollout taking longer than originally anticipated, international borders unlikely to re-open until 2022, and sporadic lockdowns a part of the “new normal”, approaching forecasting with a “ranged” approach remains appropriate for the market for the time being - although in most cases, the gap between the three potential forecasts has narrowed. Crucially, when providing the quantified forward view of the market via a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR), we have taken into account the six years of 2019-2025, rather than the usual five year range of 2020-2025. This extended CAGR allows for us to provide a more realistic projection for each of the 12 sectors we analyse and ensures that the base from which we are reporting is not distorted. 

Finally, in this year’s report, our special feature includes findings from a research study that we conducted to better understand the key factors that influence what people listen to, watch, read or play. Specifically, we look at consumers’ content appetites, which we define as their capacity and desire to consume specific content. While a distinctly personal experience, we found that there are four key factors that shape people’s content appetite and determine how willing they are to stretch it to try new things. This special report also looks into the types of consumption - routine, spontaneous and planned - and what all of this means for content creators and advertisers.



The growth of streaming services had a major impact on the whole media landscape in 2020 and into 2021.

The behavioural changes brought on by COVID-19 benefited the subscription television market.

News media felt the impact of the market-wide downturn on advertising revenue as users switch to digital.

Traditional radio is now fully complemented by streaming, podcast, and catch-up services.

Live music's recovery is clouded by factors outside the control of artists, promoters and entertainers.

Operators are upgrading fixed and mobile networks to support the changes in work patterns.

Internet advertising outperformed the total Australian advertising market.

The OOH industry is beginning to see green shoots of recovery.

COVID-19 created an increase in gaming interest from new audiences.

Filmed entertainment is facing a three-pronged challenge due to COVID-19.

Diversification continues to be a driver of magazine revenue.

Audiobooks are benefiting from the behavioural shifts brought about through podcast consumption.

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Reflecting on 20 years of entertainment and media transformation

Over the past 20 years, we've seen monumental changes in the entertainment and media industry — from technological advances to adoption of new digital channels. Use the timeline tool below to learn more about the history of the Outlook including the highlights, milestones and key insights over the years.

Jump to year
The COVID-19 Edition
Industry milestones

Bauer buys Pacific Magazines, then is sold to Mercury Capital, rebranded Are Media

Binge Launches

AAP announces closure then saved by sale to consortium of philanthropists and investors

COVID-19 brought the future forward as shifts in consumer habits and advertising investment amplify and accelerate existing trends, and forged new opportunities for consumers, media and entertainment companies alike.

"While the industry has grappled with change, its relative resilience and ability to bounceback lies in the fact that demand from the end user - the consumer - has not waned."

The Search for Growth
2019 highlights

Fragmentation - As consumers spread their time across multiple platforms, events and devices, the difficulty of aggregating a mass audience increased.

Consolidation - Media owners’ sprint to meet marketers’ demands for mass-reaching assets saw an M&A boom

Slow economic growth means a real challenge to gain share of wallet from consumers

Industry milestones

Disney+ launches

Optus launches first 5G connectivity

For innovation-focused media organisations, the search for growth has in many cases meant a ‘back to basics’ reorientation around fundamental value delivered to consumers, and a willingness to break away from legacy models defined by platform.

The New Trust Economy
2018 highlights

Digitisation of channels driving growth for Newspapers, Music, Radio and Free to Air TV

Need for consumer media companies to regain/retain trust of the consumer given explosion in sources of content

Speed of access improving given proliferation of smartphones, but 5G the future driver

Industry milestones

Nine Entertainment and Fairfax merge

Kayo Launches

OOH industry consolidates with mergers of APN & JCDecaux and oOh! Media & AdShel

Starting with content and the brand, companies need to focus on the key drivers of trust: advocacy, consistency, transparency and success.

Blurring: What business are you in now?
2017 highlights

Divergence of “traditional” vs. digital media spend gaining traction

Switch from product/channel to E&M companies becoming “media platforms”

Online video starts to be a major driver

Esports move from the basement to the mainstream

Industry milestones

CBS buys Ten Network launch in Australia

ACCC launches Digital Platforms inquiry

7Plus launched

Internet Advertising passes 50% of total ad market

Competition is no longer a zero sum game - the new competitive landscape is underpinned by frenemies. We’re seeing three new circumstances arising as companies seek other revenues using their natural competitive advantage: competitors are potential new clients, or new partners, and key suppliers are now competitors somewhere else in the value chain.

Growth through Diversity: Talent, Geography, and Business Models
2016 highlights

Growth in Australian-produced content

Challenge of diversity in Australia's E&M industry - both in those employed in the sector and the content produced not being indicative of the Australian population

Media companies diversifying their revenue streams to drive growth

Industry milestones

Nine Now launches

Amazon Prime Video launches

Tiktok launches

Southern Cross Austereo switches affiliation from Network Ten to the Nine Network while WIN Television switches affiliation from the Nine Network to Network Ten

Play School celebrates 50 years

Seven West Media’s acquisition of The Sunday Times publication and website from News Limited

News Corporation’s acquisition of APN News & Media Limited’s Australian Regional Media division (ARM)

Whether it’s due to shrugging off our colonial chip on the shoulder or improving our story-telling skills, over the last several years Australians’ tastes have shifted markedly towards a preference for Australian content. Evidence for this is found in the dominance of Australian content in our top forty television programs, notably sport, reality programs, news and high profile drama.

Innovation in Australia: Having a Go
2015 highlights

Tech start-ups lead innovation in the industry

True "year of the mobile"

Digital disruption for marketers starts to create opportunities

Industry milestones

Netflix and Stan launch in Australia

Optus Sport launches in time for the 2016 World Cup

Foxtel and Ten Network’s minority acquisitions of Ten, MCN and Presto

It is finally time to take mobile very seriously - the extent of the shift to mobile is something fundamental. Mobile will continue what the web started and reshape media, marketing and entertainment over the next 10 years. 75% of the adult population is now estimated to be smart-phone equipped.

Revolution not Evolution
2014 highlights

The marketers' viewpoint: the rise of owned media assets

The growing complexity of marketing in the digital era

The challenge of finding people with the right skills

The partnership between marketing and IT

Industry milestones

Facebook buys WhatsApp

Presto launches

"Free-to-play” becomes a dominant gaming business model as titles such as CrossFire, Clash of Clans, World of Tanks, and even Kim Kardashian: Hollywood achieve sales in the hundreds of millions of dollars through microtransaction payments for in-game items and premium content

Macquarie Radio Network and Fairfax Radio Network merge

You have to have that curiosity. Without it, you won’t see the present, let alone the future, because everything is changing so fast.

Rise of the individual
2013 highlights

The migration of technology from desktop to handheld to wearable starts to create a wider variety of data points for E&M businesses

Data privacy - how is the data stored and who has access to it?

Data volume increasing - people are spending more time online, creating more data

Data management - how does an E&M company which increasingly wants to reach its audience in a more relevant manner, manage all this data?

Industry milestones

Conversion from analogue to digital television is completed

PS4 & Xbox One, with wholly digital versions launched

To stay relevant, content creators will have to innovate both in their products and the ways they deliver them. Distributors need agility and insight to deliver the right content at the right time, on the right platform, at the right place.

Market on the Move
2012 highlights

The rising costs of securing and producing Australian content put 'value' in the spotlight, forming part of the numerous regulatory reviews including The Copyright Act Review, The Finkelstein Inquiry, The Anti-Siphoning List Review and the Convergence Review.

Industry milestones

Spotify launches in Australia

Facebook buys Instagram

NITV commences free-to-air broadcast via SBS

Foxtel Go launches for "Subscription TV through the internet"

Foxtel acquires Austar

Pandora Music launches in Australia

Global sales of tablets and smart devices reach record levels despite economic uncertainty.

Strength in Numbers
2011 highlights

Ad revenue bounce back after 2009

First signs of revenue bifurcation between digital products and printed products

Converging devices and digitisation rewiring how E&M businesses operate through the value chain

Strong Aussie dollar attracts more live music acts

Industry milestones

First NBN services live

SnapChat launches

4G mobile internet launches in Australia

SBS On Demand launched

Broadband Revolution
2010 highlights

Recovery from 2009 downturn, though Australia remained more stable compared to other countries

Government stimulus leads to consumers buying in-home entertainment and driving the E&M market

Consumer spend (not ad spend) now dominating the E&M market as technology makes purchasing increasingly easy

Broadband roll out to be the real driver of E&M over the coming years

Industry milestones

Instagram launches

1st generation iPad launches

End of floppy disc manufacture

ABC News 24 as Australia's first free-to-air English news channel

Game Changers
2009 highlights

Mobile the driving force - both data and content-led

Mobile ad revenue slow to pick up

Analogue to Digital TV switch taking time

Industry milestones

Microsoft launches Bing search engine

Season 1 of Masterchef airs in Australia, the finale being watched by 6 million, the most watched event since the 2000 Olympics

Digital radio officially launches in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth

Amazon Kindle launched in Australia

The proliferation of non-voice content and services is working with growing mobile phone penetration to increase our reliance on the ‘third screen’. This reliance is said to be so great that it now takes most people less than an hour to realise their mobile phone is missing compared to almost a day to realise their wallet is missing.

Are you switched on?
Industry milestones

Apple App Store is launched

Freeview Australia launched

ABC iView launched - the first BVOD service in Australia

Public release of Android mobile platform

2008 highlights

"Platform Surfing" becomes the new “Channel Surfing” creating even more challenge to retain audiences

Expectation of M&A to come, taking advantage of changing consumer habits

Global economic instability leading to lower consumer confidence, though not as deep an impact to the advertising market with OOH, Internet Advertising and Subscription TV fairing “OK”

Sophisticated audience measurement a key driver of media company successes

Changing channels in the digital era
2007 highlights

The migration to digital formats has an adverse impact on competing revenue streams

Consumer-generated media is accelerating content fragmentation

As content becomes increasingly accessible over multiple platforms, consumption continues to grow

Broadband availability - both wired and mobile - drives spending

Sustained economic growth supports entertainment and media spending

Industry milestones

First HD broadcast in Australia (Ten Network)

First iPhone launched

Compact Discs turn 25 years old

Ten & SWM launch HD channels

Convergence: Come together right now
2006 highlights

Convergence: music to MP3 players; news and video on mobile phones; online gaming; films downloaded over the internet

Explosion in new media channels: digi video; blogging, podcasts and social networks

Acquisitions and alliances around converging media

Industry milestones

Google purchases YouTube

Twitter launches

Nintendo's Wii console is released with motion-sensing controllers plus new PS3 and XBox 360 launched

The launch of Apple's iTunes Music Store and digital download music cards means licensed digital distribution of music will continue to increase.

2005 Outlook report
2005 highlights

Favourable economy supports entertainment & media spending

Maturation of “new” media products and services

Offset of declining categories vs. new media first discussed

Industry milestones

Apple adds Podcasting to iTunes software signalling first “year of the podcast”

IAB Australia established

YouTube founded, first video uploaded on 23 April

Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is formed by the merger of the Australian Communications Authority (ACA) and the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA)

Facebook first available in Australia

Legislation passed to allow for the first DAB+ transmitters giving rise to first digital radio in Australia

Innovations including HD DVD and online film subscriptions will continue bolstering home filmed entertainment.

2004 Outlook report
2004 highlights

Return of confidence resulting in strong ad revenue

Reality TV boom creating sponsorship & product placement opportunities

Product and service innovations across sectors

First near-video-on-demand services plus online music and gaming services start to take off as broadband costs decrease

Regulation in Australia still in limbo

More sophisticated audience measurement and accountability

Industry milestones

Facebook started in a Harvard dorm room

Google launches GMail

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year was “Blog”

Digitisation heralds a new era in subscription television services, with the promise of video-on-demand and personal video recorders likely to encouragae subscribers over the coming years.

2003 Outlook report
2003 highlights

Reset of loss-making subscription TV sector with Foxtel/Optus deal

Impact of new technology - DVDs, Widescreen TVs, broadband, MP3 players

Gaming and Internet Advertising introduced as new Outlook report segments

Proliferation of piracy

ACCC report into the communications sector

Industry milestones

MySpace Launches

Apple's iTunes store opens, first to Mac users, adding Windows users later in the year

Skype & LinkedIn both launch

Google launches AdSense allowing small website content creators to monetise their sites with Display ads, paving the way for the explosion in display ad revenue

3G mobile standard launched in Australia paving the way for mobile internet growth

"You only get to do a sequel if your first production opens strongly."

As more Australians sign up for high speed broadband Internet Services, online audio-visual entertainment - not just text-driven news and information - will be in demand. As the quality of entertainment content on the Internet improves, more eyes will be drawn to it, and advertising will follow close behind.

2002 Outlook report
2002 highlights

Deregulation in the media sector

Federal Government package of benefits to the film industry

Music industry reeling from piracy

Newspapers attempting to build viable business models around electronic (digital) distribution

Fragmentation of TV audiences

Industry milestones

Xbox Live released

2nd Gen iPod launched, including Windows compatibility (start of real growth)

First camera phone launched - Sanyo SCP-5300

Blackberry smart phone released

SBS World News Channel launched

Industry body for video games in Australia the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA) formed

"PricewaterhouseCoopers believes that the global entertainment and media sector is heading towards a highly digitised future, in which niche and customised content are the norm."

[The year previous was] a watershed year... tragic events of September 11, the stock market continued to lose its lustre. As they battled to integrate and deliver shareholder value, mega media companies such as AOL Time Warner and Universal Vivendi began to realise that size wasn't everything (See today!). The effects of the dot-com collapse rippled across the industry, while the worst advertising market in memory brought with it a wave of battered earnings.

Contact us

Laurence Dell

Partner, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 386 032 151

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