Monday, 06 April 2020 05:50

Covid-19 proves that media’s value is growing – but we need to find better ways to measure it

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The Covid-19 pandemic is disrupting every industry. For the media sector, coronavirus creates both opportunities and challenges.

On the one hand, social distancing has led to a spike in at-home media consumption, and growing numbers are turning to news providers for timely and trusted information on the crisis. At the same time, some of the most valuable broadcast content – such as live sports – is being postponed or cancelled, leading to spending reallocations by advertisers and a subsequent drop in income for media companies.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about the coronavirus outbreak?

A new strain of Coronavirus, COVID 19, is spreading around the world, causing deaths and major disruption to the global economy.

Responding to this crisis requires global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community, which is at the centre of the World Economic Forum’s mission as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.

The Forum has created the COVID Action Platform, a global platform to convene the business community for collective action, protect people’s livelihoods and facilitate business continuity, and mobilize support for the COVID-19 response. The platform is created with the support of the World Health Organization and is open to all businesses and industry groups, as well as other stakeholders, aiming to integrate and inform joint action.

As an organization, the Forum has a track record of supporting efforts to contain epidemics. In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines. CEPI is currently supporting the race to develop a vaccine against this strand of the coronavirus.

The current disruption may be unprecedented, but the media industry has been upended many times before. Since the turn of the century, digitization of content, the rise of social media and acceleration in mobile consumption have all forced changes to the way media companies monetize content.

Today – thanks to the internet’s low distribution costs and the global audience it offers – every publisher or distributor is a legitimate competitor, each striving to capture a share of advertising spend and consumer attention.

Some have thrived: their addressable market is bigger, or they’ve scaled to stay competitive. New companies – new ways of reaching people – have been created. Others struggle; local news in particular faces major challenges. A few have failed, and a few more may do so in the future.

What has stayed constant is the indispensable role that media play in society. Media don’t just help us pass the time; they keep us informed. Increasingly, media create shared cultural moments and reflect who we are as people. The industry needs financial models that work to be able to keep fulfilling these functions, which appear ever-more important during times of COVID-19.