UK: Media Predictions TMT Trends 2009 - Part One

Last Updated: 22 January 2009
Article by Deloitte Technology, Media & Telecommunications Industry Group

Most Read Contributor in UK, August 2017


Welcome to the 2009 edition of Predictions for the media sector.

This is the eighth year in which the Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Global TMT Industry Group has published its predictions for the year ahead. The volatility of the global economy in 2008 and the anticipated challenges ahead in 2009 have made this set of predictions particularly challenging, but also particularly important, to compose.

Some have questioned whether predictions are feasible amid such turbulence. Colleagues have asked how accurate they can be, given the uncertain outlook and many of the unprecedented conditions being experienced today.

Anticipating the course of the next 12 months is likely to be hard. But, in my view, that makes having a considered perspective more crucial than ever.

Predictions, by their nature, are not facts. But properly developed predictions should encompass a diverse array of views and inputs, which can kindle debate, inform possible directions and even identify necessary actions.

Every year, the methodology for Predictions is revisited,to assess how the approach could be made more robust. This year, our standard methodology has been bolstered through a program of in-depth interviews with 50 CXOs at some of the world's largest TMT companies. I am most grateful to all the respondents who offered up their insights and experience, at a time when their attention was particularly in demand.

2009 is likely to challenge all of us. But while the media sector is expected to be buffeted by grueling macroeconomic conditions in the year to come, we should not forget that the need for the media sector to inform and entertain us remains fundamental.

In short, while global growth may be cyclical, the needfor media is and will remain constant. I wish you all the best for 2009.

Igal Brightman
Global Managing Partner
Technology, Media & Telecommunications Industry Group

Putting print out of peril may require stopping the presses

The newspaper and consumer magazine industry is set for continued challenges in 2009, with developed country markets likely to be most affected.

The developing world market should grow along with increasing literacy, improving distribution infrastructureand rising incomes, but the spread of the economic downturn into developing economies in 2009 could slow or reverse print's growth even in these markets.

The challenged state of the print industry in developed world markets does not signal the demise of the sector. Rather, 2009 is likely to mark the emergence of a range of new business models, including shared backroom infrastructure and online-only delivery.

The need for new business approaches has become increasingly apparent. While publishers have reacted, this has not always been at a sufficient pace. Given this context, up to one out of every ten print publications could be obliged either to reduce print frequency, cease physical printing or, in some cases, shut down entirely in 20091.

The impetus for a change to the underlying business model for publishing has been gathering pace for sometime. The rise of online advertising and falling readership across most demographic groups had already weakened the newspaper and magazine industries in North America and Europe prior to the financial crises of 20082.

The economic downturn of 2008 precipitated falls in advertising rates and volumes, as well a further decline in circulation, particularly among weaker titles and the local press. This exacerbated an already difficult industry outlook in developed countries3.

The outlook in 2009 for some print titles in developed markets is likely to be uncomfortable. Some analysts have forecast an advertising decline as steep as 20percent4. Classified advertising, historically one of the most lucrative elements of a newspaper, could be particularly badly hit, with a 30 percent fall in revenue possible. Circulation could decline a further 10 percent5. And costs, including newsprint, may rise too, albeit temporarily6.

The publishing industry has been building an online presence to balance falling print revenues. But only a few online newspaper and magazine sites have managed to generate sufficient profit to offset declining margins from print versions.

Even in late 2008 the online contribution was at most a few percent of a title's revenues and most of these were tied to the print version in various ways.7

The drop in revenues and earnings could accelerate further in early 2009 if consumers retrench. Mid-market and free newspapers are all vulnerable, and entirely advertising-funded newspapers may be most exposed8. Even a few industry titans might have to take radicalsteps9, such as undertaking asset sales in order to meet debt payments10.

The global publishing sector is likely to have a painful2009. But newspapers and magazines will retain their unique role in informing, entertaining and commemorating11.

Bottom line

Print media companies need to accelerate steps to re-establish profitable business models again in 2009. The potentially parlous state of the global economy is likely to make change especially pressing.

While restructuring their business models, publishers should always remember that the public has a fundamental need for quality editorial, particularly during turbulent times12. While paper may be getting tattered, the desire for news remains as strong as ever.

Publishers should be aware that single measures, such as staff cuts, may not alone deliver salvation. Titles that have already shed more than half their employees may still struggle13.

The array of money-saving approaches that publishing companies could consider ranges from reducing print frequency, to asking suppliers to reduce their costs. News titles could print half as often, only at weekends or even go online only14.

The many titles that have gone online, but whose Internet revenues are not balancing falls from print, should evaluate why this is the case15. Publishers should understand how print and online customers vary. In many cases the readership for each version will differ. The variety in online readership is also typically far greater than for print, ranging from casual readers, directed to a site via a search engine, to in-depth readers, absorbing the day's news and scouring the archives. Different monetization approaches may be required for each segment: publishers should be ready to be as bold at raising prices, as in cutting them.

The sales force's incentive structure is also worthy of review: does it actively encourage all salespeople to promote online, in conjunction with print? While the most recent tendency for publishers has been to favor advertising, not subscription, for online content, they may need to reconsider. The advertising supported model, in its current form, does not appear to be working.

If 'online only' cannot be made to work from a financial perspective, a paper's online presence may need to be reduced significantly to encourage people back to the physical product. Japan's newspapers have always restricted their online presence, and its titles have suffered a lower decline in readership and advertising than its North American and European peers16 17. It could be several years, however, before readers are prepared to pay for content that was previously free – putting the genie back in the bottle could be a challenge.

Industry consolidation should be considered a possible solution but only a partial one. It is unlikely to restore historical levels of profitability. Shareholders and lenders will need to be educated about more reasonable return expectations. Publishers should not expect mergers and acquisitions (M&A) to be a major source of capital or liquidity in 2009, as credit is likely to remain constrained.

If local markets cannot be grown, diversification overseas could be a solution. Newspaper titles were still growing in number in mid200818.

Finally governments could be asked for support, for example in the form of more favorable regulatory regimes19. Unions may also offer greater flexibility and wage concessions to keep a title running.

Television rediscovers its self-belief

Recessions are rarely kind to advertising20. A major part of television's revenues is from commercials. Although the prospects for television in 2009 do not look great, the year ahead could prove to be a year of renaissance for the small screen.

One of the boosts that television is likely to receive is in viewing hours, which tend to be counter-cyclical. Indeed, in the latter half of 2008, average viewing hours were already rising in some major markets as consumers increasingly entertained themselves athome21. Viewing hours may be boosted by digital switchover, one impact of which is to increase the number of channels available to consumers. Overall, in 2009, viewing is likely to rise by 30 minutes per week per viewer.

The status of television in 2009 may also be boosted by its pre-eminent role in two of the major global events of 2008: the Olympic Games and the US Presidential Election. Both events also saw heightened use of arange of other media, from online video to mobile Internet, to distribute news. But television appeared to take the dominant role, from the perspective of viewing figures and revenues22.

Both events demonstrated the unique attributes of television: its ability to inform and influence mass markets of viewers in ways no other medium can yet compete with.

While households in countries affected by recession are expected to pare down spending, premium television may prove resilient, and even enjoy growth23. While a subscription of $60 per month may appear to be a major outlay, it could still be rationalized as good value when compared to the cost of taking a family out to dinner at a mediocre restaurant. Television may offer a refuge from everyday challenges, in a similar way that the movies offered a temporary sanctuary from the Great Depression24.

Counter to some recent forecasts, professionally produced content is reasserting its pre-eminence over user-generated content (UGC), both online as well as broadcast. This should provide a fillip to the television production sector, whose raison d'etre had come under challenge from amateur film makers.

Indeed, it is UGC that may become fundamentally challenged in 2009, as a growing number of sites restrict or decline to host it, given the difficulty in selling advertising adjacent to amateur clips25. For some online UGC, there was also the issue of viewing figures: some content, such as live streaming, is attracting only dozens of viewers – or scores on particularly gooddays26.

Online sites that had specialized in hosting UGC may increasingly offer viewers regular television programming, as this seems to be more likely to attract advertising27 28.

Bottom line

While advertising is likely to be tough in all countries affected by the downturn in 2009, the television industry should view its situation in context and consider how other media are doing. It may well find that its performance is relatively good. It may be a good time to take advantage of that and the concomitant stronger cash flows to put some distance between itself and other media. Now could be a good time for the strongest players to invest in content, contracts and an updated infrastructure. The current deployment of HDTV by local broadcasters should be slowed as little as possible, as HD further enhances and differentiates the television experience for consumers.

The television sector may also want to push for more freedom on its methods for raising revenues. For example in some markets, product placement is banned, but only selectively. Films with product placement may have been allowed for years, but locally produced programs may not yet be able to use this approach. The underlying economics may provide the opportunity to make a compelling case for the relaxation of such rules in 2009.

The television sector should ensure that its advertising impact is always given credit. The industry should, for example, provide a means to track instances where a consumer has seen a television commercial, then gone to a website to make a purchase. At present, most measurement systems would give all credit for the sale to the website, and television's vital contribution could get overlooked. One simple, but not failsafe approach, could be for the television commercial to cite a unique URL for those guided to the website via the advertising spot.

Television, like all other media, has ceded revenues to online advertising. It may not have been as affected as other media, such as local newspapers, but it still appears to have lost revenues. Online has claimed it is more accountable than other media. But television should counter this claim, where possible. For example it is unusual for advertisements from another country to be broadcast to a television viewer, yet the Internet Protocol address for a PC may be for a different country to that of its user, making some of the statistics on advertisements served irrelevant.

3D becomes an obligation, not an option, at the movies

The moving image has historically performed well in downturns. In the United States, in the Great Depression, individuals scraped together their meager earnings for the chance to spend some time at themovies29.

But as the world's economic outlook pales, the prospects for the film industry are not necessarily bright. While the cinema did do well in the 1930s downturn,its appeal was driven by two factors. First, sound had been a recent innovation that added allure to the movies. Second, televisions, let alone home theater systems boasting screens of ostentatious dimension, were few and far between30.

In 2009, the cinema is likely to need a 'must-have' factor that convinces audiences to continue to visit. The answer to that need might well be 3D, a technology that pre-dates the Great Depression, with the first 3D movie premiered in the early twenties31.

In 2009, the 3D movie may have its first billion dollar year at the box office. A growing number of movie studios, in addition to Dream works, are likely to create all future outputs in 3D32. Some of the world's leading producers and directors, including James Cameron, Jeffrey Katzenberg and George Lucas are planning to premiere their first 3D movies33. 3D technology is expected to be used in a growing range of genres: it will no longer focus on horror and space travel. The number of post-production facilities that are 3D readyis likely to increase. A new industry dedicated to the creation of durable 3D-glasses might even emerge.

While the supply of 3D content should grow strongly in2009, the number of venues at which 3D movies can be seen is still likely to be limited34.

Obtaining funds to convert analog venues to 3D digital($70,000) or digital venues to 3D ($30,000), may be challenging, given the state of the economy35. But the better 3D movies perform at cinemas that have been converted, the better the prospects for investment36.

In 2008, some 3D movies earned more than conventional competitors on their opening weekends37, despite being available in far fewer locations38. In 2009,

the industry's hope is that this feat gets repeated.

As 3D grows in popularity at the movies, interest in the technology from the television sector will grow39. In 2009, a growing number of 3D television sets are likely to become available, adding to a small but growing installed base40. An increasing number of DVDs offering 3D content may also become available, although domestic television sets capable of displaying these are likely to be few and far between.

Bottom line

The movie theater is likely to face some of the toughest trading conditions in years during 200941. To keep the box office busy, theater owners may need a new reason to convince consumers to spend their hard-earned income with them42. 3D may well be that difference.

The momentum behind 3D may force the industry to decide whether to continue backing development of super high definition. Lack of liquidity, combined with a general air of risk aversion, may make it far harder to back both development paths, at least in the short term.

Super high definition offers a greater degree of reality, with resolution of up to 8,000 lines, that is, 64 times the detail of the current best quality of televisions and 16 times the detail of the best cinema screens43. Prototypes of televisions and broadcast systems providing 8,000 line resolution and 22 channel sound were already being demonstrated in 200844.

The industry may have to decide if 3D or higher resolution is likely to have the bigger impact on the consumer.

The manufacturers developing 3D technology should also look at other applications, aside from entertainment, that could benefit from an added dimension. Medicine, teaching and peer-to-peer communications are all possible candidates.

The growing cost of free online content

The notion of free content has been central to the media sector for decades. Consumers have been willing to receive free content, via commercial radio and television broadcasts, in exchange for advertising.

The rise of the Internet in the 1990s was accompanied by a new debate on free content that was played out through experimentation with all forms of content, including business material that had previously been charged at thousands of dollars per document.

The continued, more vertiginous rise of the Internet this decade has also seen experimentation with free content models, but with one major change. As well as professionally produced material being offered free, the public has also been allowed, indeed encouraged, to make its content available to everyone.

Typically, amateurs who submitted their content have received little or no compensation. One online newspaper, ohmynews, which is based wholly on donated articles from the public, offers compensation in the form of tips donated by readers. A few tips have been significant, but the vast majority have been tiny45.

While compensation has been meager, there has also been little or no charge for uploading content. As a result the world's data centers are now replete with exabytes of UGC that, in 2009, may become regarded a liability, rather than an asset46.

The cost of storing an individual's video may be trivial. But the cost of storing millions of videos or billions of photographs is significant, as is the cost of their distribution. For the largest sites hosting UGC, the cost could be over $100 million per year47.

Prior to 2009, the volume of participation in sites hosting UGC appeared to matter most48. A site with tens of millions of members, all submitting content, and viewing each others' digital offerings, was regarded as a good thing. During the coming year, that may well change, for the simple reason that while the absolute cost of creating the content may be tiny, the ability to realize any revenue from the content may be smaller still49. The major challenge – probably the fundamental one in 2009 – is likely to be how to generate advertising from UGC50.

Advertisers are generally reluctant to place their clients' brands next to any material that may damage their clients' reputations51. But classification of content to the degree required for advertisers may be impossible to realize. The sites hosting UGC are unlikely to be able to sift manually through each picture, video or status update submitted, due to the volume of work this would involve. It may be too difficult to trust users enough to classify their content or current activity to the extent that advertisers would feel comfortable advertising next to them. And technology that can automatically classify content, and also vet it for general suitability, does not appear to have been invented yet.

Thus in 2009, sites that had focused exclusively on UGC may well have to scale back some of their offerings, and offer content that is more professionally produced, which can generate some revenue. Revenues will have to rise, costs will have to fall52.

The rising cost of online content may mean that the public's opportunity for 15 minutes of online fame may be receding fast.

Bottom line

The approach to free content online is likely to have to change. Companies hosting UGC, particularly large format content such as video and high resolution photos, should evaluate how best to increase monetization of their offering.

One change would be simply to start charging consumers for the privilege of making their content available online. In recent years charging for video submissions has been abandoned in the pursuit of users. In 2009 users that refuse to pay may be dropped in the search for revenues. Individuals wanting to relay their status to their friends may have to start paying for this service, with fees possibly based on the number of friends each individual has.

Online content companies should be realistic about charging: customers are generally aware that free lunches cannot be sustained, and in most other markets, from energy to food, accept that quantity and quality are directly correlated to price. Those that really want to put their content online are likely to pay, and pay more for premium services53.

Companies that invite readers' comments online should also weigh up the benefits and drawbacks in doing so. It does increase interaction and the additional storage requirement is relatively small. But the risk of the occasional unacceptable comment posted within an unmoderated forum may not justify the increased advertising or subscription revenue that this form of user participation delivers54.


1 For example see: Christian Science Monitor to publish online only, The Guardian, 29 October 2008.

2 Shrinking ad revenue realigns US newspaper industry, International Herald Tribune, 7 February 2008; Crisis kills local papers after advertising plunges,

The Times, 14 November 2008.

3 Newspapers' debt dilemma, San Diego Reader, 2 July 2008.

4 Steep drop in newspaper ad revenue expected in 2009, YLE, 8 November 2008. See:

5 Newspaper seeks comeback formula, Freep, 2 November 2008. See:

6 Holmen sees 2009 newsprint prices up sharply, Reuters, 21 August 2008.

7 For example, see the weblog debate on online profitability at:

8 Free newspapers feel the pressure,, 23 October 2008.

9 NY Times publisher: Our goal is to manage the transition from print to internet,, 8 February 2008.

10 Cash crunch at The New York Times: $400 million due in May, Silicon Alley Insider, 8 November 2008.

11 Old media won't die. It will simply evolve, Business Pundit, 30 October 2008.

12 Rupert Murdoch: the Internet won't destroy newspapers, The Guardian, 17 November 2008.

13 For example see: ;

14 Arizona paper tries new approach in changing market, Business Week, 7 November 2008.

15 Buttry: don't bail out the watchdog, GazetteOnline, 15 November 2008.

16 Japan's papers: doomed, but going strong, Washington Post, 25 October 2008.

17 Japan: Newspaper industry "relatively recession-proof" but dying, The Editors Weblog, 27 October 2008.

18 As markets emerge, newspapers find growth, International Herald Tribune, 11 May 2008.

19 France looks to save its newspapers, International Herald Tribune, 19 October 2008.

20 For examples see: ; ; ; ; .

21 In the United Kingdom, total television broadcast viewing rose year on year by 2.4 percent in September 2008, based on data from the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board. On average, each viewer watched 3 hours 31 minutes of broadcast television a day, up 42 minutes a week from a year back. See: Monthly TV Report – September 2008, Thinkbox, 24 October 2008:

22 Overall, 4.7 billion people watched the Beijing Olympic Games on television. Source: The Straits Times, 22 October, 2008. Source: In the first week of the Olympic Games, NBC reached 180 million US viewers via television coverage. Over this period, 25 million online video streams were delivered. Less than half a million users a day were using the mobile service. Television video on demand had a 0.1 percent reach. Source: NBC Olympics record viewing for prime time coverage, informitv, 16 August 2008, /.

23 For example, see:

24 How the Great Depression inspired Hollywood's Golden Age, The Independent, 4 October 2008.

25 For background on the cessation of some live hosting video sites, see:

26 At the time of viewing one live streaming site in mid-November 2008, there were 1,704 people watching 47 live channels.

27 See: YouTube goes legit, begins streaming approved CBS content, Wired, 10 October 2008.

28 Feature films coming to YouTube, CNET News, 6 November 2008.

29 How the Great Depression inspired Hollywood's Golden Age, The Independent, 4 October 2008.

30 Ibid.

31 The first 3D movie to be shown to a paying audience, The Power of Love, was premiered in 1922. See: /.

32 Movie industry doubles down on 3D, Wired, 41 April 2008.

33 Hollywood sees its future in 3D revival, Financial Times, 25 March 2007; Depth of a salesman, Business Week, 10 September 2007.

34 Dolby 3D digital cinema expands worldwide as demand grows for digital 3D, Reuters, 8 September 2008.

35 3D film technology 'could kill off 300 British cinemas', The Daily Telegraph, 20 October 2008; Depth of a salesman, Business Week, 10 September 2007.

36 Katzenberg says there will be 12-to-18 full 3D movies by 2010, First Showing, 17 October 2007.

37 3D movies are coming to your home, but should they?, Venture Beat, 25 June 2008.

38 For example, Journey to the Center of the Earth grossed $21 million during its opening weekend in the United States. It was screened on 2,811 cinemas, of which 854 were 3D. The first weekend for the 3D movie Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds, generated $29 million from 683 venues, or $42,360 per screen. The second-placed movie generated $13 million from 2,436 screens. Revenues from 3D screenings represented 70 percent of the total. Sources: Weekend Box Office (July 11 – 13, 2008), Box Office Guru, 14 July 2008; 3D "Hannah Montana" film rules box office, Billboard, 3 February 2008; Hannah Montana tops US Box Office, BBC News, 4 February 2008.

39 Why stereo TV is television's destiny, Broadcast, 6 June 2008; IBC to show Katzenberg interview in live 3D transmission, Broadcast, 22 August 2008.

40 3D movies are coming to your home, but should they?, Venture Beat, 25 June 2008. 3D TV set to boom, Smarthouse, 10 November 2008.

41 Hollywood may not be recession-proof this time, Los Angeles Times, 29 October 2008.

42 For examples of tightening consumer spending, see: Decline in consumer spending continues, Washington Times, 31 October 2008; Consumer spending in sharp decline, The Daily Telegraph, 26 November 2008.

43 Sony leads push for higher clarity at 4K, Hollywood Reporter, 8 October 2008.

44 The TV format to replace HD, BBC News, 15 September 2008.

45 Korean online newspaper enlists army of 'citizen reporters', San Francisco Chronicle, 18 September 2005. Also see: ohmynews founder says citizen journalism can work everywhere, Press Gazette, 2 June 2006.

46 For information on the size of social networks' digital storage, see: MySpace tackles extraordinary data storage requirements,, 29 November 2006.

47 YouTube looks for the money clip, Fortune, 25 March 2008. See:

48 Twitter's business model? Well, umm, Wired, 4 August 2008; Twitter microblogs to success, BBC News, 3 August 2007; Twitter turns drivel to cash, Information Week, 31 July 2007; Murdoch questions YouTube business model, World Screen News, 9 February 2007; the Web according to Balmer, BusinessWeek, October, 2006.

49 YouTube's popularity fails to sway advertisers, Financial Times, 16 November 2008.

50 A coming of age for YouTube, CNET News, 17 November 2008; Rival forecast to catch YouTube, Financial Times, 16 November 2008.

51 Analyst says Hulu to match YouTube's US revenue, Washington Post, 17 November 2008.

52 Monetization potential for YouTube: Building out a model, Paid Content, 6 March 2008.

53 Rising from the dead: the paid for online content model, CNET News, 17 November 2008.

54 Readers' comments bigger legal risk than forums, The Register, 26 August 2008.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.