The Media Industry in 2020

2020 has been a year of ups and downs, but for the media industry has had a great impact, compared to other industries.

This year has had a great impact on many industries and the media industry is no different. From the successful launch of Disney+ to the troubles in film, the COVID-19 pandemic has had both good and bad effects on the various industries we call – the media.

Let’s start with the Newspaper industry. With hundreds of online “news” outlets being created every year, traditional newspapers pushing digital memberships and of course, Twitter, print is continuing to decline. Paired with the Coronavirus outbreak has led to a drop in print sales of around 30% alone in recent months, potentially a result of exponential growth in online news and magazines which now have a 70% share of the news audience – up from 20% in 2007. 

For magazines, the future of print is as bleak. In the UK, print magazine sales fell from 820 million copies in 2011 to 374 million just seven years later. The National Readership Survey (NRS) presented that in 2017, 71% of adults in the UK consumed magazines with 44% of this consumption being digital. It’s fair to say that there is a market for high quality or niche journalism for print. However, like newspapers, print production has already been surpassed by digital. Both industries face the key problem of persuading their audience to switch from print to a paid monthly or yearly subscription.

Whilst the old radio format follows a similar trend, digital radio is looking much more promising. In fact, RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research) Q1 data release for 2020 highlighted that 37 million people or 67% of the UK population tune into digital radio each week, now having a 58.6% share of all radio listening. The COVID-19 outbreak – responsible for so much destruction this year – gave radio the ability to go from strength to strength. Global reported that between the 9 to 17 March, the average daily reach increased 15% with daily hours up 9%.

It’s been a while since the days of iTunes let alone HMV, streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music have dominated the music industry in recent years. They have completely revolutionised the way we consume our music – and now podcasts in Spotify’s case. Th-e music streaming market has grown rapidly since 2015. However, Forbes found that since the pandemic hit, music streaming decreased in the US for three consecutive weeks. As a result of this, artists have had to innovate to find new ways to distribute their music. A crucial example has been live streaming on both YouTube and Twitch as well as social media.

Television in all its forms has been boosted by the pandemic, with most of the increase coming from broadcaster TV. Ofcom stated that this is largely due to the increase in demand for PSB’s news services, such as BBC News for their coverage of the pandemic. Despite broadcast TV viewing decreasing after the national lockdown, viewing numbers are up 11% in comparison to last year – as a result of reinforcing their importance and establishing trust. The largest amount of growth, however, came from SVoD subscriptions with 12 million people subscribing to a new service.

Disney Plus review | TechRadar
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Disney+ found massive success throughout the pandemic with their audience growing 44% alone in the US from February to March. Tech giants, Google and Amazon’s social media viewing platforms, YouTube and Twitch have had continued growth with YouTube now hosting two billion monthly users according to Statista.

It could be argued that the pandemic hit film the worst. Film production and releases have been postponed, festivals cancelled, and cinemas closed. No Time To Die – the new James Bond film – has had its release date pushed back twice, from April 2020 to November 2020, to now April 2021, to avoid massive losses on investment.

To limit the impact of COVID-19 on film festivals, The Online Box Office Film Festival hosted an event to hold multiple awards for film producers this year. As the leisure industry is forced to close during national lockdowns, cinemas are among those affected. After the lockdown ending in the UK, cinema ticket sales struggled to recover. However, despite its poor first week at the box office, Christopher Nolan’s Tenet has now grossed over $250 million worldwide.

The podcasting trend has continued to grow and is now one of the most popular media forms in the UK. Ofcom reported that around 7.1 million people listen to podcasts each week a 50% increase compared with five years ago. However, for half of these podcast listeners this is a fairly new experience with them only starting to listen to podcasts two years before.

Within the UK, the BBC has the largest reach when it comes to podcasting, with entertainment becoming the most popular genre. Spotify is taking podcasts seriously, investing $500 million into a strategy to diversify its service away from being just a music platform. According to Spotify, there has been a 200% increase in podcast listening YoY for 2019. This big spend has brought with it some controversy, most notably, Joe Rogan’s exclusive deal, costing the streaming platform $100 million.

The deal that sees him paid the equivalent of 23 billion streams a musician would have to make, shuts out many previous listeners of the show, says the BBC. Despite this, it’s onwards and upwards for podcasting, as the UK locks down podcast numbers will surely go up – as once again we will look toward this media industry to get us through.

PS5 vs Xbox Series X specs: How do they compare? - MSPoweruser
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The increase in gaming has become a worldwide trend; in the US time spent playing video games increased 45%, in the UK this was 29%. Like television, it is obvious why gaming has increased – people have more free time. The launch of the PS5 and Xbox S, Facebook Gaming, 5G gaming and Apple’s Arcade gaming service are major trends revolutionising the industry, improving the standard of gaming like we have never seen before.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare, Warzone, Fortnite, Fall Guys and Among Us have been some of the biggest games of the year. Gaming has always been routed in a young male audience, but it is branching out to girls and women as well as older people. Gaming is in a strong position to grow into one of the most popular media forms.

The term blogging may seem like something from the 2000s, but in fact in 2020 it is still a very relevant media form. HubSpot found that there were around 600 million active blogs globally as of this year. Blogging is big business – with at least one hundred of the top 200 Fortune 500 companies having a corporate blog – generating millions of pounds through ad revenue and as a content marketing customer acquisition strategy. Social media is a term that almost everyone has heard of, yet do not know it is a form of microblogging. Every time you write a tweet, you are sharing an opinion or piece of information (or news) which is effectively the same as blogging – just on a small scale. Like broadcast television, blogging has been a key place for reliable up-to-date news during the pandemic with many current-affairs bloggers seeing a large increase in traffic. The US presidential election led to even greater value in blogs, as they were able to cover in real time, every last detail – and every last Donald Trump tweet…

You would think that with broadcaster television hours increasing, the demand for advertising would also increase. Actually, advertising revenue is down – a lot – for major broadcasters as advertiser’s own budgets have decreased due their own decline in revenue and increased costs as a result of the pandemic. The BBC reported that in April, ITV’s ad revenue was down 42% with FOX’s in the US halving.

This is a problem for industries like newspapers that rely on advertising as a large part of their revenue. Looking at the business cycle, theoretically, going into a recession because of BREXIT and the pandemic, businesses are going to cut back further on advertising. However, some brands are reverting their limited marketing budgets to other media forms, particularly digital. 

Statista reported there is an active global social media population four billion as of May 2020. We don’t statistics to show how powerful social media is and the impact it has on individuals and business. However, what people might not be so aware of is the impact social media is having in the media industry as a whole.

Twitter rolls out its 'Hide Replies' feature to all users worldwide |  TechCrunch
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Twitter is changing journalism, rather than relying directly on a news site or even newspaper, consumers can stay up to date via the social media platform the minute stories break. Journalist’s jobs are being impacted, quality journalism is being attacked by fake news, 280 character tweets are replacing real reading, and it is now the place where journalists themselves gather news.

Ultimately, the media industry is dynamic, constantly changing, and revolutionising. The COVID-19 pandemic has helped many industries such as radio and broadcaster television, however, it has also damaged some industries, particularly film. The pandemic has also decelerated the decline in most of the old media products due to consumer viewing hours increasing as a result of national lockdowns.

Finally, the media is affected by advertising and ad-revenue as it is a major source of revenue, however, this is being damaged by the pandemic and the monopolistic control of tech giants.

By Edward Lovett

Feature image: LexisNexis

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