APAC Media Landscape 2022 Report: An Overview of the Top Industry Trends & Development
Updated: Jun 30
The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly altered the media industry. PR Newswire, the leading global provider of news distribution, launched its APAC Media Landscape 2022 report last week. The report offers detailed insights into the trends and developments in the media sector across the 9 APAC markets of Australia, mainland China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand.
The report helps businesses and PR & Communications professionals to better navigate the complex and diverse local media landscape in APAC. It includes popular media outlets, major changes to media policies, and important industry issues and topics. Here are the major highlights of each of the 9 markets that the report assesses.
The second round of lockdowns in Australia had a rippling effect on the state of the media and adversely impacted the job market in the journalism industry. With growing angst among the Australians, news related to COVID-19 wasn’t merely more sought after but was also heavily scrutinized. Consequently, major publications like the ones under the News Corp umbrella saw a significant surge in subscription revenue, which even exceeded their ad revenue.
Another major development was the amendment of Australia's new media bargaining code after a round of discussions with Facebook. The government’s media code outlined the price that major tech giants like Google and Facebook would have to pay domestic media publications to show their content in case they were not able to reach a consensus. With this bill, Australia became the first country to govern the minimum price paid to domestic media.
2. Mainland China
The Chinese media industry was focused on the elimination of monopolistic practices and the enhancement of privacy protection in 2021. This was mainly driven by the Chinese government’s announcement regarding more stringent regulations and standards about content.
The expectations around quality content are steadily growing among internet audiences. This means that media platforms that dish out meaningful content will be more trusted by people. This is probably the reason behind the rise of short-form video platforms that produce more diversified and professional content.
3. Hong Kong
The media industry in Hong Kong has been undergoing several changes. The closure of the popular newspaper Apple Daily and news website Stand News in 2021 led to journalists worrying about the potential decline in freedom of expression in the country. This resulted in some former journalists establishing their online media outlets and looking for creative ways to make up for the lost advertising revenue.
The Hong Kong media industry is also grappling with the issue of manpower shortage. While many existing journalists have switched careers, fresh journalism graduates are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the long working hours and low salaries. This has compelled some media outlets to hire people without any journalism experience.
An increasing number of Indonesians are turning to subscription-based platforms for news and entertainment. According to an Inventure survey, over 65% of the respondents in Jakarta below the age of 25 years accessed video content via paid streaming platforms during COVID-19.
Since people are turning to online mediums, ad spending in traditional media also plummeted during the pandemic. However, the digital ad space is on a rise. According to Nielsen, advertising spending on digital media from mid-January to July 2020 amounted to Rp 24.2 trillion, which was more than almost thrice the ad spending in 2019. Indonesia's digital advertising market is projected to grow at an annual rate of 12.2% over the next five years.
Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Malaysian media worked tirelessly to provide fair and truthful coverage while maneuvering the restrictions set to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus with the Movement Control Order (MCO). Many media houses also had to cut back on their staff strength to stay afloat.
In early 2021, the Malaysian Media Council was established to promote media freedom in Malaysia by abolishing laws that suppress press freedom. It was designed to establish a proper code of conduct to promote ethical reporting amongst media practitioners, protect media professionals, and promote and support media literacy among the public. The country is hopeful for this change to take place despite the delay due to the pandemic and political transitions.
The audiences in Singapore are increasingly consuming their news via digital platforms instead of traditional newspapers and magazines. This has disrupted the revenue streams of traditional media companies as most of their revenue comes from print advertising.
On top of the declining revenue streams, the pandemic catalyzed the disruption of media companies. This resulted in Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) restructuring its media division into a not-for-profit subsidiary company, SPH Media Holdings. This announcement meant that SPH Media Holdings will be allowed to get funding from private and public sources. A major concern about this situation was how SPH’s newsrooms would be affected and whether they would be able to maintain editorial independence from its funders.
Another closely watched issue was the passing of the Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Act (FICA). The legislation will introduce countermeasures to prevent, detect, and disrupt foreign interference in domestic politics conducted through hostile information campaigns and local proxies such as ‘politically significant persons’.
7. South Korea
While printed newspapers in South Korea continue to face a crisis due to COVI-19, new business models such as subscription services and memberships became popular in 2021. As an increasing number of people spend more time at home due to lockdowns, news consumption has increased.
However, South Korean media outlets have been suffering from a lack of credibility. Annual surveys by Reuters have consistently shown that the trust in the news in South Korea is among the lowest. While there has been an increase of 11% in the number of respondents who said that they trust the news from 2020 (21%) to 2021 (32%), the number is still low by global standards.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused many financial difficulties for media outlets in Taiwan. This is well evident from the year-on-year decrease of 15.5% in the advertising sales of six major domestic media outlets in 2021. Like in most other APAC countries, media platforms have turned to online advertising to drive their revenue streams. They have also adopted a subscription model for news.
The advertising spotlight has shifted to social media in recent years with Instagram emerging as the most popular platform. It has 7.4 million active users and accounts for almost one-third of Taiwan’s population.
Although popular media outlets such as CommonWealth Magazine, United Daily News, and Apple Daily have successfully launched their news subscription services, the response from subscribers has left a lot to be desired. The Taiwanese media has had to grapple with issues such as finding out how much consumers are willing to pay for subscription services and finding continuous modes of investment in high-quality news content.
In Thailand, the COVID-19 pandemic brought changes in media consumption behavior, which has become much more diverse today. The journalists in Thailand have adopted a hybrid work arrangement that allows them to work from anywhere and go to the office only when it’s necessary to do so. They support their work through technologies like video conference software, which allows them to livestream their programs or conduct interviews remotely.
Although the industry didn’t see any significant growth, the TV media sector in Thailand continued to grab people’s attention. Considering the volume of TV advertising spending, the market value of TV media remains strong. In Thailand, TV advertising spending continues to outpace ad spending in other media formats.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about various changes in the way the conventional TV media operated. To stay relevant, media platforms have had to adapt themselves according to the emerging trends. Hopefully, this report will equip you with meaningful insights into the nuanced differences in how the media industry operates across different APAC markets and help shape their local communication strategy.
To delve deeper into the findings of the report, click here.