The Future of Media: Global Shift, Away from U.S. And Europe

Media as a business and cultural force is in a period of transformation in all respects. There is a shift underway in media consumption from the U.S. and Europe toward Asia, Africa and Latin America. Print and music may be declining, but TV and on-demand content remain strong. Low-cost mobile devices continue to impact the creation, distribution and consumption of content for a new global audience. As a result, there is an increased focus on non-English media content.

“The convergence of digital media and technology, under way since the dawn of the Internet, will accelerate,” explains The New York Times. “Distinctions between old and new media will fade; most media will be digital. Mobile devices, already the preferred media and Internet platform for many people, will continue to proliferate. We may wear them on our bodies or weave them into our clothing.“

The globalization of the media business is creating new markets and the previous centers of media creation and consumption such as the U.S. and Europe, will experience competition from fast growing regions like Asia, Africa and Latin America.

“Geography and technology will be the key drivers,” says Martin Sorrell, chief exec of advertising company WPP.

However, the future is uncertain. By 2017, revenue in the media industry could shrink by small margins from current levels of $1 trillion — or more than double, according to a study by Cisco Systems. Industries such as music and newspapers have declined, while the recording industry has demonstrated its first growth after a decade-long decline.

TV has been performing better with overall strong viewership and advertising; however, the lines between television and the Internet continue to blur as viewers use more on online demand video services. “When you get the ubiquity of smart devices, you stop talking about old media and new media — it’s all just media,” said Marcel Fenez, the global chief of the media and entertainment practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“In a digital era, any content can be accessed anywhere, anytime,” said Ross Dawson, who predicted the growth of social networking in 2002 in the book “Living Networks.” “Any media organization, anywhere, can aspire to a global audience.”

Low-cost smartphones will bring the Internet to new regions and new audiences. The U.N.’s International Telecommunications Union says that 2.7 billion people are currently connected to the Internet. And fast growing markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China are new areas for digital consumption and content creation.

English-language media can expand into new markets, as well as non-English content makers can now find global audiences. Last year, Chinese speaking Internet users were close to overtaking English-speaking Internet users, reports a U.N. Broadband Commission study.