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Australian Entertainment & Media Outlook 2022-2026

Australia's leading industry forecasting report into consumer and advertising spend, macro trends and revenue forecasts for the next five years across how Australians watch, read, listen to, play and access entertainment and media.

Riding the wave of growth

Welcome to the 21st edition of PwC’s annual Australian Entertainment and Media Outlook. Our most recent editions have focused on the COVID-19 pandemic’s immediate impact on the entertainment and media (E&M) industry, which was a period of never before seen uncertainty and accelerated change. Given this rapidly evolving environment, we introduced a range of forecasts — based on a high, expected (mid-point) and low ongoing sector performance — rather than a single forecast. This approach is continued this year, and provides our audience with a range of potential outcomes, based on Australia’s progress against factors largely outside the control of the industry. These factors include the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, regional and overseas geo political instability, and their effects on supply chains, plus the impact of macro economic turbulence in Australia having the potential to affect business and consumer confidence. 

In 2021, Australians spent more on entertainment, media and internet access services than ever before. Supercharged by subscription services and gaming, and boosted by the return of in-person entertainment, by the end of 2022 each household will be spending A$510 more per year than in 2019 before the pandemic hit. This was despite being a period when in many parts of the economy it was reported that discretionary consumer spending was being held. It is expected a further A$7.2 billion, in consumer spend will be on the table for entertainment, media and internet access companies to challenge for. 

Similarly, in the second half of 2021 advertising revenue accelerated beyond all predictions as marketers sought to capitalise on positive consumer sentiment as lock down measures eased, reaching A$19.7 billion, an increase of 20.3 percent.

This year’s Entertainment and Media Outlook examines where this growth is being delivered, where it will and will not continue, and how market participants — be they entertainment and media business, marketer or regulator — can capitalise on the growth to come. 


Consumers Turn to Entertainment and Media

2021 was a year of unprecedented growth in the E&M industry with consumer spending up 6.23 percent from the prior year, reaching A$45.6 billion. The highest single year leap in the history of the E&M Outlook. The largest contributor to consumer spending remains internet access followed by Games and Subscription TV which made up nearly 60 percent of the remaining A$14.0 billion, both of which are expected to see significant continued growth through the forecast period.

Where the initial wave of the pandemic may have been characterised by households reigning in spending and being unable to visit in-person entertainment, the second wave into 2021 saw consumers turn to entertainment and media to help alleviate the boredom of extended lockdowns, taking a more confident approach to spending.

Our forecast indicates that growth will continue through the 2022 calendar year at 5.5 percent, reaching A$48.3 billion. This represents a lift since the height of the pandemic in annual household spend into the E&M sector of A$512 per annum with households in 2022 spending over A$4,500 on average annually – a 12 percent increase on pre-pandemic times.

Consumer spending is forecast to continue to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.0 percent over the next 5 years, reaching a total of A$55.5 billion in 2026 based on PwC’s midpoint forecast. This equates to a further A$7.2 billion in consumer spend per year by the end of the period.

Whilst we may have thought we were saving during lockdowns, that was certainly not the case in terms of entertainment & media, and this was despite in-person and live events only slowly returning.

Total 2021 Consumer Spend by Entertainment & Media Category (A$ millions)

Total 2021 Consumer Spend by Entertainment & Media Category (A$ millions)

The Ad Market Roars Back

While 2021 saw a return to the lockdowns first experienced in 2020, the response from Australian advertisers was very different. The rebuilding, change to greater flexibility, digitisation and growth in eCommerce that took place in 2020 laid the foundation for advertiser confidence, and with it spending accelerated as 2021 progressed. This acceleration, ultimately took advertising spend to A$19.7 billion, a year-on-year increase of 20.3 percent and 17.3 percent up compared to 2019’s previous ‘normality’. This was a year of advertiser spending growth like no other seen in the history of the Outlook.

Our forecast indicates that this spending will continue throughout the 2022 calendar year, with advertising spend growing a further 8.3 percent to reach A$21.5 billion based on the mid-point forecast scenario. Where the first half of the year was supported by government and election-related revenue, as the year progresses other pandemic-hit sectors such as travel are expected to boost the market. As such, 2022 would then be the second-highest annual growth in the history of the Entertainment and Media Outlook swiftly following the 2021 growth.

While the rebound of advertising spending was at a markedly higher rate than consumer spending provides positivity for the sector, our projections indicate that consumer spending will continue to grow solidly until 2026, whereas ad spend growth will flatten across this period.

In shaping the market of the future and to prepare for potential market turbulence, E&M industry participants must look to differentiate. Download the Outlook report to read our insights, recommendations and approach to ride this wave of growth.

Outlook 2022-2026 insights at a glance

Consumers are spending more

By the end of this year, each Australian household will have increased their spending by

Over $500
on average

vs. before the pandemic.

By 2026 there will be a further

A $7.2

on offer for all in the sector to complete for.

Post-pandemic future of advertising

Coming out of COVID, advertisers roared back into the market spending $4bn more to win in 2021, a +20% – while slowing there will still be 8.4 percent more in 2022, for a further $1.8bn – a $4.7bn increase since before the pandemic.

Consumers are spending more
  • $2.3BN

    in new revenue in gaming – low friction consumer revenue and in-game ad revenue

  • $1.7BN

    further growth in subscription television – transitioning from box, plus new business models and new audiences

  • Mobile access – new smaller entrants, satellite and 5G power

  • Video as the driver for the ads market

  • Changing business models, adding new revenue streams Premiumisation of traditional channels particularly cinema

The rise of retailer media

Retailer media, led by a combination of traditional retailers and Amazon will build a $2bn segment in the coming 5 years, placing further pressure on traditional media.

The challenges ahead
  • Macro economic factors of inflation and potential pressure on discretionary spending as interest rates riset

  • The changing face of privacy leads to a review of practices

How can you ride this wave of entertainment and media growth?


Contact us

Laurence Dell

Partner, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 386 032 151

Dan Robins

Director, CMO Advisory, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 439 531 447

Samantha Johnson

Partner, PwC Australia

Tel: 61 2 8266 7458

Jeremy Thorpe

PwC Chief Economist, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 416 245 535