Online surge predicted

Study predicts that 'Net may become principle

Though consumers may be holding off on entertainment via their computers or handheld devices, that may change by 2004, predicts a study being released today by PricewaterhouseCoopers’ entertainment and new media division.

“Most books, most music and a lot of film entertainment will be distributed electronically in the average household,” said Mike Kelley, partner at PWC. “I think it’s very much going to be an on-demand situation that follows the cable model of pricing.”

Pushing this move to digital distribution will be familiarity with the medium, as the Internet becomes the principal method of personal communication in the coming years, Kelley said.

According to the “Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2000-2004” report, 73 million households will be online by 2004 compared to 40.5 million in 1999.

With a surge in Internet users comes a surge in advertising spending.

Internet advertising will more than quadruple over the next five years, rising to $20.3 billion from $4.6 billion in 1999, the report says — which should inspire a sigh of relief from entertainment Netcasters, which are reliant upon online ads.

As the number of Netizens grows, the medium’s efficiency will afford them more leisure time, according to Kelley. “It will condense the exercise of getting information and communications, thereby freeing up time for people to watch TV and for vegging out,” he said. “Traditional media will actually thrive.”

Projections for overseas are similar, with the number of Netizens in Europe increasing from 84 million in 1999 to 227.8 million by 2004. In Asia, the number will rise from 56.4 million in 1999 to 204.5 million in 2004.

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