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Audio’s Place in the Rising Global AV Market

By Clive Young. The global Pro AV market is skyrocketing, and audio has a surprising place in that picture.

New York, NY (July 24, 2019)—If it seems like the pro AV industry has been particularly busy in recent times, that’s not a vibe or a feeling; it’s a quantifiable fact. According to AVIXA—the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association, formerly known as InfoComm—the industry is in the midst of an upswing, and what’s more, things are just getting started.

Globally, the pro AV industry as a whole was at $231 billion in 2018 and is expected to close out 2019 around $247 billion—but it’s expected to hit $325 billion by 2024, the result of a near 5.7 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR). That’s just one of the eye-opening facts to be found in the organization’s 2019 AV Industry Outlook and Trends Analysis (IOTA) Global Summary.

While AVIXA published various annual reports in the past, 2016 saw the organization team with insights and intelligence firm IHS Markit to provide a more data-driven overview of the industry, resulting in the IOTA Report. “It’s a massive project that starts in November each year,” said Sean Wargo, senior director of market intelligence, AVIXA, “and then it’s a good six to eight months of work to get the data to its final state so we can … launch the data in June,” at the annual InfoComm trade show.

There’s plenty of insight to be found. While the Americas have historically been the leader of the pack when it comes to pro AV revenues, 2019 will see a changing of the guard, according to this year’s IOTA report, as the APAC countries are expected to take in $90.61 billion in revenues for a CAGR of 7.1 percent. That just edges past the Americas, which are estimated to have a still rather healthy $89.05 billion and a CAGR of 4.7 percent. The gap between revenues will become more pronounced by 2024, however, when APAC is expected to outpace the Americas by more than $15 billion. What’s powering that surge? AVIXA expects much of it to come from demand for security, surveillance, and life safety solutions in the region—a push that will drive dramatic growth within the streaming media, storage, and distribution (SMSD) product segment to the tune of a 10.5 percent CAGR through 2024.

The Americas won’t be left in the dust, however; pro AV growth will remain strong here as well. The report expects the Americas to hit $112 billion in revenue in 2024, with a CAGR of 4.7 percent. Much of that will be fueled by growth in the corporate market, particularly due to a shift away from on-premises solutions to private, public, and hybrid cloud deployments. That doesn’t mean that physical installation of AV gear will dry up; on the contrary, AVIXA expects to see considerable growth in markets for environmental systems and performance and entertainment solutions.

Pro audio manufacturers, however, may soon see their best sales figures coming from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) by 2024 with a CAGR of 4.5 percent. Revenue for audio equipment in EMEA is expected to surpass that from the Americas (the current leader) and hit $6.7 billion in 2024.

While it might sound like audio isn’t going to be the home run hitter in a pro AV solution provider’s lineup, it is in fact the most dependable player on the team, according to Wargo: “[Data-wise], audio is an interesting phenomenon. It’s not the part of the budget that gets a lot of attention [compared to] big shiny objects like direct view LED and other display technologies that are going to be front and center in a sports venue or auditoriums, but across the eight verticals we’ve surveyed, our research shows that audio is the part of the solution area that is consistently ranked as most likely to be upgraded in the near term—the next 12 to 18 months.”

Unlike many of the technologies garnering attention today, the audio market matured a long time ago; as a result, it’s often time for those systems to be updated. Both solutions providers and customers want to know and understand the latest audio offerings. Bolstering that finding is, surprisingly enough, registration data from InfoComm, as Wargo attests that among audience surveys, “audio” is consistently one of the topics attendees say they’re at the show to learn more about. “While it may not be the biggest chunk of revenues, it’s clearly an area of investment and interest among the population at large,” he said.

There are other factors to take into consideration as well. “One of the things that’s driving that audio investment is IP,” he noted. “Honestly, now that we have more reliable, robust solutions for IP-based distribution of audio, I think it’s triggering some investment, because you can address the speakers, you can route sound a little more efficiently. Those aspects are part of it.”

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One of the most surprising audio facts that AVIXA’s number crunching has revealed is that audio is a key factor for a pro AV client’s true end user: the general public. “What we’ve found in research is that if you look at the audiences—the consumers who come to events in sports venues or fixed venue auditoriums—the thing that correlates most with their overall satisfaction is the audio quality. Clearly, if you want to move an attendee satisfaction number, you’ve got to look at the audio experience and how well sound is being conveyed to the audience at large. It’s number one in terms of its correlation, so for purveyors of audio technologies, designers of solutions, the most important takeaway is, ‘Don’t forget the audio.’”