The notion that the U.S. dominates the global media market may be a thing of the past. For audiences abroad—such as in Asia and Africa—viewers have been consuming more local content than ever before. In the past ten years, media markets have rapidly expanded in Asia and Latin America. In many countries, such as South Africa and India, spending in the entertainment and media industry has grown faster than the states’ gross domestic product according to a study by PWC. Nations are also catering to local tastes and languages that have fallen off in the U.S. market. Although the U.S. remains the top media provider, nations have been catching up, so much so that international film markets may eclipse the U.S. film industry. China is geared to replace the U.S. as the world’s largest market for box office revenue, with spending on media reaching nearly $170 billion in 2015. With the impact of large global media, U.S.’s grasp of the industry may be slipping, but as new industries emerge abroad, countries have new opportunities to foster growth.
India is one of the many countries that have stimulated growth from their entertainment and media industry. India boasts an 18.5-billion-dollar media industry size, growing nearly 10% in the past five years, according to a study by the KPMG. India’s rapid growth stemmed from an unlikely source. In comparison to China, Japan, and South Korea, India is one of the least digitalized, but the non-digital market is soaring. In India, the low level of internet access has cultivated a market for physical media including newspaper, magazines, and physical videos. India’ rich middle class consumes large quantities of print newspapers and magazines, replacing international markets in the consumption of traditional media. With the cheap cost and production of newspapers and magazines in India and the variety of languages offered in print media, the market is anticipated to amplify by 12-14% according to data from PWC.
Print media is not the only sector that may present a feat for the U.S.: Hollywood productions may be replaced by locally made films abroad. In cinema advertising revenue alone, South Africa has increased its profits by 40%. In 2016, South Africa locally-produced films grew by 55%, according to a report from South Africa’s National Film and Video Foundation. The trend has been emulated in Asian markets as well. The PWC reported that South Korea has increased in cinema advertising revenue by 40%, with the locally made films grossing 81% of its film revenue. In India, domestic films are also overwhelming the market. India’s domestic box office accumulates 74% of the total revenue. India is one of the biggest producers of films as well, creating around 1,500-2,000 films in 2015 in comparison to the 700 films produced by Canada and the U.S.
However, India and other less-developed countries have faced obstacles in generating film revenue. In India, development is halted by rampant piracy, regional cinema, taxes, censorship, and low ticket sales. The number of screen availability is rare as well because of the lack of infrastructure available to cater to India’s booming population. In comparison to 23 screens per million people in China and 126 screens per million people in South Africa, India only offers 6 screens per million people, according to a report from Deloitte. Although the resources and appeal reflect potential, India’s film industry will not rise until the country creates better infrastructure and becomes more digitalized.
While the India film market catches up, China has emerged as the U.S.’s top competitor in the film industry. China is already the second largest theatrical market and the film sector is set to double up from $5.8 billion in 2015 to nearly 10 million in 2019, according to a report from the International Trade Administration.
In the U.S., film industry executives and leaders from the Chinese American community have already examined how America will prepare for the incoming changes in the international film industry. In a panel discussion hosted in April by the Committee of 100, an organization focused on promoting productive relations between U.S. and China, production heads noted the new threshold of responsibility China will hold when it topples the U.S. as the top film producer.
American film producer Robert Simonds said “America is great at exporting culture because we were the only country in the world with a big enough domestic market to have a muscular, vibrant movie and TV industry. That is about to change. For the first time, another country besides America is going to have a giant domestic market. China is about to become a major player in terms of storytelling.”
However, the panel mentioned that Chinese media industry may still adopt other cultures and may not be representative of the tastes and styles of their country. Jim Gianopoulos, chief officer of Paramount Pictures said, “If China is going to develop an export business, it needs a willingness to accept diversity or the possibility that it may not be as rooted in the cultural form that it started with. That may be something to learn from Hollywood.”
From China’s surge to one of the largest film sectors to small bursts of growth in small Asian countries, pieces of the global film industry are now being distributed to more domestic and localized sectors. The growth of these countries’ media has translated to massive economic expansion. In China and India, the advancement of the entertainment and media sector is coupled with a growth of countries’ compound annual growth rate, according to the PWC. While research indicates that the domestic media industries will only continue to progress, media companies face a challenge ahead in competing with emerging markets. The media industry is indeed changing and unlike other industries, the sector is looking less western and more of a global melting pot.