As I was growing up in Newcastle in the 1970s, my access to information and entertainment was limited to a handful of media outlets — two television channels, one newspaper, and a handful of radio stations. Given that airtime and column inches were scarce and expensive resources, it’s not surprising that I had so few choices.

Fast forward a few decades, and the situation could not be more different. There’s been an unprecedented explosion of content. On YouTube alone 4 billion videos are viewed every day, and 60 hours of video are uploaded every minute. My family has endless choices of what to watch, listen to, play, and read.

This is obviously an era of major change, and, rightly, many questions are being asked about how the media sector is evolving and what the future holds for Australian consumers and content creators. These are important questions that go beyond mere economics. We’re talking about the building blocks of our culture and identity. A strong, diverse media sector is central to that.

Wanting to better understand the current landscape, we commissioned the Boston Consulting Group to prepare an independent, fact-based report — which we believe is the first of its kind in the world -— on the impact of Internet media on consumers, artists, and the industry in Australia.

Here’s some of what BCG’s “Culture Boom: How Digital Media Are Invigorating Australia” found:

  • Australians like the new media world, where their access to, and choice of, media has never been greater. We’re consuming more media than ever before, and we’re happier with both the quantity and quality of material available.
  • Australians love Australian content. We are choosing to watch Australian-made content, despite the fact that we can easily watch content from anywhere in the world.
  • Overseas they love Australian content too. Australian content performs so well overseas that we have a trade surplus: overseas they watch more hours of Australian-made online video than Australians watch of overseas-made online video.

This dynamic new media world is creating tremendous opportunities for new and existing media businesses. According to the report, the media industry will grow over the next four years, with revenue projected to rise to $29.1 billion and 15,000 new jobs created. The Internet will be a key driver of that growth.

Furthermore, BCG calculates that new media is generating a consumer surplus of $24 billion — this is the value that Australian consumers believe they’re deriving from new media above what they already pay. As new content, new distribution platforms, and new monetization mechanisms come together, there’s a lot of opportunity ahead. Existing companies stand to gain, but we’re also seeing a generation of new artists and entrepreneurs emerge here in Australia, from Brisbane games developer Halfbrick to Perth’s Nick Bertke, alias POGO, whose remixes on YouTube earned him work with Disney and Pixar, as well as an exhibition at the Guggenheim in New York.

It’s clear that Australian consumers, media businesses, and content creators are all benefiting from the Internet, but just as exciting is that Australian content — and the Australian culture and identity — is staking out an even stronger place in the world.

Go here to read more and download the full report.

Posted by Nick Leeder, Managing Director, Google Australia & New Zealand