Abstract - The Information Society 28(5)

Online vs. Offline in the U.S.: Are the Media Shrinking?

David Waterman and Sung Wook Ji

We find that combined revenues for 10 major media in the U.S. have steadily declined as a proportion of overall economic activity or Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 1999 to at least 2009 (the latest year for which we have complete data).  For individual media, we find a generally consistent pattern in which increasing revenues from Internet distribution are exceeded by declines in revenues from established distribution channels, with the exception of television and video games, whose revenues have so far kept pace with GDP.  We also report a marked overall shift from advertiser to direct payment support for the media industries over this period. We consider four possible reasons for these revenue trends: shifts in consumer media usage; reduced appropriability due to more difficult copyright protection, inadequate advertising business models, and reduced costs due to more efficient Internet distribution.  Our analysis suggests we may be entering an era of a declining size of media industries in terms of conventional measures, but not necessarily a falling supply of media products themselves.

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