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Moscow Times
July 14, 2005
Russia Leads in Search for Fun
By Maria Levitov
Staff Writer

Russia's entertainment and media market is the fastest-growing in Europe, surging 27.4 percent last year, according to a new report published by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The market, which includes film, video, Internet products, print media, sporting events and theme parks, hit $12.45 billion in Russia last year, PwC said in its annual study of the world's entertainment industry.

The report said that Britain's $74 billion entertainment market was Europe's largest. Japan's $92 billion market topped the Asia Pacific region, while China's grew 30.6 percent in 2004. The United States towered over the world with its $525 billion entertainment market, accounting for nearly half of the global $1.3 trillion market.

Music downloads and other forms of wireless and Internet entertainment are becoming big money makers, PwC said, while book publishing and newspaper markets growth is slowing in all regions. Total revenues from new entertainment forms will increase from $11.4 billion in 2004 to nearly $73 billion worldwide by 2009, PwC projected.

In Russia, however, it is the film and advertising industries that are driving the country's booming market.

Higher disposable incomes and the appearance of new cinemas pushed spending on movie tickets, videos and DVDs to grow 18.2 percent, reaching $565 million in 2004, PwC said.

While about 150 movie theaters were upgraded or constructed in Russia last year, the film industry was held back from greater development by the high consumption of pirated DVDs and video cassettes, the report said.

Just in Moscow, counterfeit products in certain consumer goods segments, including electronics, reach 60 percent, said Olga Alexeyeva, an expert with the Moscow Fund for Consumer Protection.

"We receive complaints every week about pirated video cassettes," she said.

Nevertheless, PwC projected that Russia's film market would exceed $1 billion by 2009. Television advertising already reached $1.434 billion last year, growing 24.9 percent.

In Western Europe, by comparison, the television ad market expanded by 5.6 percent, the consultancy said.

Despite the onslaught of visual information, "Russia still appears to be a nation of many readers," PwC said in the statement.

The country's book publishing market expanded 5 percent to $1.635 billion last year, accounting for more than half the book publishing market in Central and Eastern Europe, PwC said.

Global consumer spending on books increased 1.5 percent last year, the second-slowest expansion of all entertainment segments. Book publishing's stagnation was surpassed only by the slowdown in consumer spending on newspapers, which did not reach 1 percent last year, PwC said.

Casinos were the third-fastest-growing segment of the global entertainment market last year. The segment grew 9.7 percent worldwide in terms of consumer spending, just behind video games (11.1 percent) and Internet products (22.8 percent), according to the report.

PwC did not take into account Russia's gambling market because of a lack of transparency. The domestic slot-machine business alone is worth $3.5 billion, according to MDM Bank.