The Future of Public Service Media

Build a future-proof strategy for your media organization
with our scenario planning and market research

Welcome to the future, or rather the different possible futures. We've put together a series of research reports exploring the scenarios that are most likely to affect public service media, and in particular, European media.

The world is changing faster than most outlets’ ability to evolve. Yet public broadcasters can adapt by recognizing the direction of change, accounting for different possible outcomes and taking measures to future-proof their organizations.

Our downloadable reports offer market insights and critical trends that will allow you to prepare for these. For a quick summary, you can explore the key findings on this page.

Featured research


Public Service Media Horizon 2027

The EBU's strategy unit has gathered major market insights and anticipated effects on public service...

The EBU's strategy unit has gathered major market insights and anticipated effects on public service media's (PSM) strategies for the next five years. You'll find data and sets of recommendations for PSM arranged through the four main categories of society, technology, content and trust, and distribution.

The research describes the consumer and markets of 2027 and summarizes how PSM will be judged in five years.

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Beyond The Horizon: Outlook to 2032

The two reports from Oliver & Ohlbaum Associates focus on the future direction of the European audiovisual...

The two reports from Oliver & Ohlbaum Associates focus on the future direction of the European audiovisual and audio markets. Each paper examines three different landscape scenarios for 2032. In both cases, a steady transition to digital is explored as the baseline scenario and is complemented by two alternative scenarios varying in the pace of change. The studies depict the impact on all market participants, focusing on public service media and their potential responses.

Note: Click on "Download publication" below to get a zip file containing the 2 full reports and 2 report summaries.

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The Future European Media Landscape in 2035

The Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies (CIFS) explores the future through 15 megatrends and 15 critical...

The Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies (CIFS) explores the future through 15 megatrends and 15 critical issues which could shape the media markets of 2035. Critical issues are organized around four dimensions – future consumers, future technologies, the future of PSM, and the future of Europe.

The paper also covers the art of long-term thinking and how to develop long-term strategies from future-back thinking.

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Key findings

1. It’s not just about forecasting

Scenario planning is not about forecasting, but exploring the notable trends and uncertainties that can shape potential futures. Identifying barriers and accelerators for change are more important than accurately predicting the future. Scenarios should be used, not as an exact picture of what is to come, but instead to determine how we can position ourselves to mitigate against multiple possible outcomes.

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2. Working with multiple time-horizons

Media organizations lie at the centre of the digital vortex, having to transform themselves within a continuously changing environment. This does not facilitate long-term thinking. In fact, only a healthy blend of short-term tactical decision-making (1-2 years), combined with medium-term strategic planning (2-5 years) and long-term vision (5-10 years) help prepare public broadcasters for what comes next.

More on this in the Future European Media Landscape report (page 10)

3. There is no ‘going-back’ scenario

The potential futures of media markets rely on many unknowns. But one thing is certain: audience preferences and market conditions will continue evolving toward increased connectivity, and online modes of viewing and listening. Digital presence, and an increasingly agnostic distribution strategy are an absolute priority in the short term as this will be the cornerstone to survival in the longer term. None of the studies exploring the future envisages an alternative scenario diverging from this path.   

More on this in the Outlook for 2032 Audiovisual and Audio report (pages 5-6)

4. Three areas of high risk

Audiences will adopt aggregation platforms. And it is the tech giants who hold the keys to consumer technologies and data - so understanding user needs. These challenges converge around the core issue of PSM relevance. For public broadcasters to build a safer future, they must prioritize (1) understanding audiences, (2) interacting with Big Tech and (3) reaffirming relevance.

More on this in the Public Service Media Horizon 2027 report (page 6)

5. Fluid audience behaviors

The consumers of the future will develop more liquid consumption behaviours, explained by their global mobility and increasingly fragmented attention. At the same time, they will be actively involved with media brands and form new types of online communities. Trust will remain crucial to them and will expand to include new dimensions such as digital identity.

More on this in the Future European Media Landscape report (pages 13-18)

6. Shifting demographies

Not only will audience’s habits change, but the fabric of the audiences themselves will also. While moving to new technologies, European populations are also ageing, moving away from cities in the west of Europe and towards them in the east, all while visiting offices less. The young need support to have their voice heard, while finding innovative ways of reaching out and communicating.

7. Tech, tech, tech

From production to distribution to end-audience, emerging technologies will redefine all steps of audiovisual and audio value chains while continuing to disrupt PSM’s competitive environment. Technological evolutions will continue to impact access to PSM services and apps in the short and medium terms, with the increased importance of smart TVs and smart speakers, for instance. Tech will also be paramount in the long run, with shifts including the adoption of more immersive environments.

More on this in the PSM Horizon 2027 report (pages 18-20)

8. Partnerships and collaborations

Audiovisual markets will be torn between fragmentation and aggregation of content and services by increasingly powerful gatekeepers. A similar tension has been growing between the appeal for global content produced by media behemoths and the demand for local content. One unambiguous response to both challenges lies in deepening partnerships and fostering new collaborations around co-productions, journalistic resources pools, policy and wider societal initiatives.

More on this in the Outlook to 2032 Audiovisual and Audio report (pages 33-34)

9. Trust, an invaluable commodity

The variety of sources of information increases daily, while the transparency of the hand that feeds them becomes more and more opaque. Consumers are increasingly moving to digital to state their needs, but trust in these platforms is low, and for good reason. PSM must both move to these platforms to service its audience, while also discovering new techniques to protect, as well as inform its audiences.

10. Shaping public media post-2032

The future of media markets will not be defined away from value-related considerations. Values such as independence, trust and transparency will have to be re-examined and reinforced by new frameworks, fit for the new digital landscape. The ability to command an understanding of these values will be of utmost importance for media organizations to remain relevant in the next ten years and beyond.