With advertising dropping and mass job cuts, what does the future look like for Australia’s media and TV giants?

That adds to an oversaturated digital video market, also dominated by social media giants YouTube, TikTok and Instagram.

The digital future became even more challenged on Thursday with Labor’s Anti-Siphoning and Prominence Bill passing both houses.

Digital advertising continues to grow its overall share of the ad market. In 2023, it accounted for 43 cents of each dollar spent by advertisers. Sixty per cent of all digital advertising is reportedly spent with two companies: Google and Meta.

“We are seeing the market get more and more crowded with the entrance of players like Amazon, just this week, into the TV ad market, and this poses real challenges for the businesses who have traditionally created Australian content,” says Chris Nolan, chief executive of ad-buying agency Principle Media Group.

“The problem facing many legacy media today is that they are in a race to reach their digital maturity.”


Radio revenues have held up somewhat in comparison, driving a similar share of ad dollars in 2023 compared to 2015. And print revenues, while still profitable for now, are on a declining trajectory. Print advertising made up 8 per cent of total spend in 2015 and now accounts for less than 2 per cent.

Some media analysts say the future for the legacy players – whether in broadcast or publishing – lies in building subscription revenue, which offers higher quality and less volatile returns.

Nine-owned streaming platform Stan and the now self-sustaining newspapers The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian Financial Review have been celebrated by Nine for their growing subscription businesses. Yet, unlike the mastheads, Stan was spared in the latest round of cuts at Nine.

Whether the media market faces cyclical or structural challenges depends on who is speaking.

Nine’s sales chief Michael Stephenson said in February the market was “close to the bottom” before a bounceback. Others believe the challenges being cyclical is far from reality.

“There is a cycle going on, but once that comes back to growth, I don’t think legacy media will participate that much in it,” says former Facebook Australia boss Liam Walsh, now director at influencer tech start-up Fabulate.

Will Hayward, chief executive of Private Media – which publishes subscription-led Crikey – warns the likes of Nine and News Corp must face up to the “sobering reality” that the ad dollars aren’t returning.

Media buying agency boss Mark Jarrett of PHD says there is some truth to both scenarios, agreeing that a per-capita recession over the past nine months has had cyclical impacts on the market.

However, media companies’ profits have been shielded by a post-COVID boom, Jarrett says, delaying the traditional media giants facing up to the eventual reality of where they sit in the wider pecking order of marketing investment.

“It’s difficult to make changes when things are going well.”

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