World Media 2006: US

Hurricane Katrina, a trade deficit and a population tiring of the war on terror have dampened the mood somewhat, but the world's largest and most diverse media market continues to flourish.

Confidence is a fragile commodity, as Americans in general - and president Bush in particular - rediscovered last year. First, there were worries about the size of budget and trade deficits - which increased America's propensity to enter into fractious trading disputes with the likes of China.

But domestic anxieties took a new turn when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. While president Bush dithered alarmingly over the response, news footage only served to remind Americans of the poverty endemic in its forgotten underclass.

Meanwhile, the war on terror wasn't exactly going to plan as regards the installation of democracy in Iraq; and, for the first time, opinion polls were showing a majority of the public in favour of retreat.

So the mood in US media circles has been sombre in places - though ebullience is never far from the surface when the economy is (at least superficially) flourishing.

This, obviously, is the world's largest and most diverse media market: there are, for instance, 10,000 commercial radio stations in the US, and it has 1,500 daily newspapers. The US press market is unique in that, aside from USA Today and The Wall Street Journal, its newspapers are all metropolitan, regional or local titles - that in itself is a measure of the sheer geographical size of the country.

In electronic media, the US is the proving ground for many developments that continue to define the evolution of advertising media at the start of the 21st century - notably the use of hard-drive personal video recorders.

Traditional spot advertising revenue is still bleeding out of the traditional networks - ABC, NBC and CBS - into cable; and although the networks have been plugging the gap somewhat with product placement revenues (which are growing at more than 15 per cent per annually), they are being forced to consider more radical solutions.

CBS and NBC, for instance, will this year be offering programming on a pay-per-view video-on-demand and digital download basis - a significant move, some observers say, away from a traditional business model focused almost entirely on advertising.

Meanwhile, online advertising continues to grow at an astonishing rate.

Total online revenues are expected to reach $19 billion by the end of the decade, according to some forecasts.

ADVERTISING EXPENDITURE USdollars million at current prices. *Estimated Total TV Newspapers Magazines Radio 1994 92,059 33,453 33,439 11,354 10,652 1995 98,046 35,680 35,278 12,149 11,470 1996 104,852 38,472 37,077 12,994 12,412 1997 112,038 40,709 39,079 13,748 13,794 1998 120,743 43,471 41,341 14,573 15,411 1999 139,935 47,299 43,697 21,193 18,581 2000 156,667 52,258 48,700 23,978 20,819 2001 147,246 49,714 45,778 21,540 18,800 2002 149,756 51,640 45,320 20,903 19,423 2003 152,282 51,610 46,227 21,712 19,581 2004 161,487 55,504 48,538 22,757 20,364 2005 166,235 55,390 50,237 23,902 20,589 2006* 174,759 57,541 51,744 25,283 21,197 2007* 182,440 59,219 53,037 26,763 21,833 2008* 191,301 62,391 54,098 28,392 22,706 Total Outdoor Online Cinema 1994 92,059 3,161 0 0 1995 98,046 3,369 100 0 1996 104,852 3,597 300 0 1997 112,038 3,802 906 0 1998 120,743 4,027 1,920 0 1999 139,935 4,565 4,600 0 2000 156,667 4,912 6,000 0 2001 147,246 4,814 6,600 0 2002 149,756 4,945 7,250 275 2003 152,282 5,093 7,758 303 2004 161,487 5,297 8,688 339 2005 166,235 5,726 9,992 400 2006* 174,759 6,344 12,190 460 2007* 182,440 7,040 14,018 529 2008* 191,301 7,826 15,280 608 Adspend notes 1) After discounts. 2) Includes production costs. 3) Includes classified advertising. 4) Includes agency commission. FACTFILE Highest circulating titles - Newspaper: USA Today (daily, 2,300,000 copies) - Business magazine: Money (monthly, 2,029,000 copies) - Consumer magazine: AARP The Magazine (bi-monthly, 22,263,000 copies) Top TV shows - Most watched TV programme (2004): Super Bowl XXXVIII - Best new TV format: House, a new twist on medical drama, with Hugh Laurie Major measurement tools - Circulation: Audit Bureau of Circulations - Readership: Mediamark Research - TV viewing: Nielsen Media Main media owners - Newspapers: Gannett, Dow Jones - Magazines: Time Warner, Conde Nast/Advance, Advanstar - Television: ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, Time Warner

THE LOWDOWN

Media topic du jour: Will the phenomenal growth of online advertising start eating into television revenues?

Reigning media guru and why: Sreenath Sreenivasan, a teacher of online journalism and new-media production at Columbia University. A passionate believer in the importance of media convergence, he's the hero of bloggers everywhere.

Media mogul to be seen dining with: Chris Albrecht, the chairman and chief executive of Home Box Office, still involves himself in creative issues and continues to have a disproportionate influence on US programme-making at its most innovative.

Car to drive: The amazingly fuel-efficient Honda Insight.

Phone to carry: Motorola Razr Ultrathin.

Whatever you do, don't say: New Orleans? Isn't that down south somewhere?

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