Media’s mega money

Study: Consumers shell out $54 bil for entertainment

U.S. consumers spent about 13 hours and $32.18 on average per person to see movies in theaters last year. By 2003, they’ll be forking out $38.22 for 15 hours of screen time, according to Veronis Suhler & Associates’ annual communications industry forecast, which predicts media spending and usage.

Theatrical releases helped boost total domestic entertainment spending to $54.7 billion in 1998, up 9.7% from the year before. Spending in the sector, which includes filmed entertainment, recorded music and interactive entertainment, will jump to an estimated $81 billion by 2003.

Blockbuster bounce

Filmed entertainment — box office, homevideo and TV programming — grew 8.5% to $39.5 billion and will hit $55.6 billion in 2003, according to the study, which projects its numbers in five-year cycles. B.O. spending was driven by blockbusters such “Titanic” and the 15 movies last year that generated more than $100 million each in ticket sales. Multiplexing, which offers a wider selection of films, should keep spending on the rise.

Box office spending alone rose 9.2% to $6.9 billion last year and will hit an estimated $9 billion in 2003. The forecast assumes the growth of ticket prices will remain moderate and it doesn’t incorporate the impact of a blockbuster film on consumer spending.

Homevideo spending is predicted to rise from $18.4 billion last year to $26.6 billion in 2003, including rentals, sell-through, cassettes and DVD software. Spending on TV programming will go up from $14.2 billion to $20 billion in the period and recorded music spending is projected to swell from $14 billion to about $18 billion.

Spending on basic and premium cable, satellite and other subscription services is forecast to rise dramatically to $76 billion from $43 billion and total Internet spending is expected to nearly triple to $23 billion from $8 billion. These figures include advertising and consumer spending.

Talking profits

Consumer spending across the entire communications industry, which includes books, magazines and other businesses, is expected to rise from $118 billion to $175 billion.

Ad spending is forecast to move up from $149 billion to $216 billion. A big chunk of this is TV broadcasting, where total spending will go from $37 billion to $48 billion. In radio, the number is projected to grow from $15 billion in 1998 to $25 billion in 2003.

Overall, the U.S. communications sector generated $461 billion in total spending last year, ranking seventh among all U.S. industries. By 2003, spending will rise to $663 billion, capturing sixth place, edging out food and related products.