PWC’s outlook for Commercial Radio

Staff Writer

Megan Brownlow from PwC spoke at the National Radio Conference this afternoon on the future of the Australian media industry and radio's place in it.

A month ago, Radio Today's Eriks Celmins delved through PwC's Outlook for Australian Entertainment and Media 2012-2016 and gave us a clear snapshot of the future….

It’s not easy keeping up with the Big Picture of radio’s longer-term business direction, when information sources are fragmented, the industry changes daily, and you’re too busy dealing with the demands of the next 4 minutes of a 24/7 operation, let alone the next 4 years!

However help is literally at hand or thumb, with the new release of PwC Outlook Australian Entertainment and Media 2012-2016, in both hard copy and web app versions here

What’s the “new normal”, what does it mean for radio, What’s In It For Me?


PwC Outlook gathers an enormous mass of detail across 11 key Entertainment&Media sectors, to boil it all down to a fascinating, digestible analysis of both the entire E&M spectrum, and individual industries.

There are 5-year revenue forecasts, commentary, a Global Outlook, and special features this year on Australian Content:What’s the value?, mobile commerce, IPTV and catalogues.

You don’t have to buy the whole package. There are web app add-ons for individual sectors, so you can pick and choose what you need. E.g. the Music report is well worth a look for radio people.

It’s both useful and stimulating to examine radio from an informed, analytical, outside point of view, the way potential owners, investors, and advertisers look at us as a business proposition.

Do a Meerkat and rise above the operational minutiae, to see what’s really going on in the E&M world now and in the future. What will change, how should you adapt, as a business and as an individual? Especially in the current Darwinian turmoil of Australian media.

You may disagree with some views, what’s radio and innovation without robust debate? Some market conditions have changed already, forecasting being an art as well as a science, but I highly recommend diving into PwC Outlook for a practical understanding of your opportunities in the Big Picture.

Here‘s just a taste for starters …

The New Normal

Taken from the Global Outlook, this neat phrase captures the essence of “the end of the digital beginning”. How “global sales of tablets and smart devices reach record levels once again, underlining the growing revenue opportunities from digital delivery of E&M content and advertising to increasingly connected, and particularly mobile, consumers”.

Digital is now “business-as-usual”, with E&M companies reshaping and retooling for future survival and success.


Given the global headline above, PwC Outlook reviews where Australian radio now sits as a “mature” industry, and how it can adapt in the digital future. Digital meaning not just Digital Radio, a hot topic in itself, but the broad “potential of digital technology for both listeners and advertisers”.

Their revenue forecast is in line with the cautious, “green shoots” positivity of the recent reporting round. The CAGR (compound annual growth rate) forecast as 3.9% over the next 5 years.


And there’s a good discussion on the increasing number of advertising platforms competing against radio.

Other topics (from the informed outsider’s perspective) include…

  • The ratings system which is in the necessary process of adapting to the “new normal”, as advertisers ask radio “to keep pace with improvements in audience measurement across other media”. The Radio Today lines are open now!
  • Balancing compelling content regulation and community standards – noting that 13 years (how time flies) after the first cash-for-comments blow-up, new standards applied from May this year.
  • And certain other controversies and their commercial impact have not escaped under the radar.
  • Digital Radio is well canvassed, with some very encouraging audience growth and radio sales numbers, when you stand back, plus a practical exploration of in-car and smartphone penetration.
  • Consolidation drives widespread change even as we speak. Next year’s report will be a continuing saga, especially with the implementation of the Convergence Review and the removal of the “2 out of 3” ownership rule.
  • Internet radio continues its steady march powered by mobile internet, apps, and subscription music services integrated with social media. You’d think BTW, that radio music research has great opportunities in the social mechanisms for people sharing their music tastes and playlists.
  • The internet is seen as giving consumers greater choice and control over unique content not found elsewhere, with thought-provoking answers to the challenge contributed by two radio experts, interviewed for the overall radio report.
  • Rebekah Horne (outgoing dmg Chief Digital Officer) talks about understanding and leveraging the new platforms for an enhanced radio experience, while Joan Warner (Commercial Radio Australia CEO) details radio’s unique “live&local” proposition.
  • Which folds into the final topic headline of What is the value of Australian and local content? Especially in light of the Convergence Review, and controversial regional radio “minimum service” standards.
  • The PwC analysts make a fair point about how an “industry that sells itself on being live and local” should not find minimum Australian content “a significant constraint”.


PwC Outlook objectively spotlights radio’s strengths and challenges in the “new normal” digital world.

It’s worth reviewing the comparisons with other sectors, and thinking about how to “future-proof” your career and skills development, whatever your current role. And as time allows, take the blinkers off, dig into other industry reports for valuable insight into the vast ecosystem of Entertainment&Media, and look for new cross-pollination opportunities for radio, to regenerate and grow.


Eriks Celmins is Managing Director of Third Wave Media, Adelaide-based consultant for media research, strategy and content.


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