PQ Media

Bucking media trends, PQ Media reports broadcast radio use increased globally in 2019 while most other traditional media saw declines. The 1.7% increase in the number of hours per week that consumers spent with over-the-air radio meant the medium was tied with print books as the fastest-growing traditional media. One reason that people may be hitting the “on” button is PQ Media says sales of CDs continued to plummet last year. At the same time, it says use of mobile audio is among the fastest-growing media channels worldwide.

Radio’s gains are even more noteworthy because the firm says the amount of time people spent with traditional media decreased 0.9% in 2019 to 37.8 hours per week. That marked the third consecutive year-to-year decline, which PQ Media says was due primarily to the absence of even-year boosts from global sporting and political events in most countries. The report says shrinking sales of home entertainment content like DVDs does have an impact on television use, but it reports live TV remained the most used medium worldwide as consumers averaged 21.3 hours per week.

Overall, PQ Media says in the U.S. consumer time spent with media totaled 70.9 hours per week in 2019. That was an increase of 0.6% compared to the year before. Mobile audio and digital video helped drive digital’s share of overall media consumption to 40.2%, it says. By comparison, Japan had the highest media usage in 2018 at 77.7 hours per week, according to PQ Media’s annual Global Consumer Spending on Media Content and Technology Forecast.

Slowing Growth In Consumption

The U.S. elections as well as the Summer Olympics and the World Cup are expected to increase consumer media usage in 2020. PQ Media forecasts it will climb 2.1%, with digital audio and video helping keep people glued to devices. Yet longer term, analysts see a different trend emerging. They project there will be a progressive deceleration in the growth of overall time spent with media. PQ Media predicts global consumer media usage will increase only 1.4% on a compound annual basis between 2019 and 2023. That compares with a 2.4% growth rate experienced during the 2014-2018 timeframe.

“This is an historically significant slowdown attributable to several key factors, including the decelerating mobile media juggernaut, younger demographics’ aversion to traditional media, and the lack of dynamic new media on the horizon,” said PQ Media President Patrick Quinn. He said their pacing data shows that digital video services will experience a nice bounce from the introduction of several new services, but they’ll be an exception. “Overall media consumption growth in many of the top 20 global markets is either nearing or dipping below 1% going forward as the growth of various online, mobile and social media usage continues to slow or decline,” said Quinn.

In a surprising finding, PQ Media has seen mobile media usage growth decelerating due to declines in smartphone and tablet sales, particularly in countries where wireless device penetration is nearing saturation, including the U.S. and Canada.

One advantage broadcast radio will have in the coming years is its free price tag. The average American now spends $1,334 on media each year, according to PQ Media. Its forecast shows the battle for subscription dollars will become tougher in the coming years, even as less is spent on traditional media like CDs, newspapers and magazines.

Analysts estimate global consumer spending on digital media will rise 4.7% in 2020. That follows a 6.2% increase last year. Its data shows the average consumer around the globe spent $219 on digital media content and technology last year, a 7% increase versus the year before.

Consumption ‘Tipping Point’

The reality that there are only so many hours in a day will trigger a “tipping point” for consumer time spent with media, the point at which consumer media usage stops growing. PQ Media says its 20-country review shows that tipping point has not yet been reached. But in the U.S. we’ll be closer than ever to that point by the end of 2023, it says.

Even as 5G will shake up media habits and make digital more attractive, mobile is already having an impact on global internet media usage. PQ Media says online time declined for the second consecutive year in 2019. It points to a continued shift of time spent with media to mobile media and wireless devices, although it notes there are distinct generational overtones. Of the roughly 65 hours of media per week consumed by people born between 1981 and 1996, the data shows nearly 28 hours or about 42.5% is done via digital devices. But among those born before 1945, just 20% of their 85 weekly hours with media is occurring on digital platforms.