Saying that 2020 has been a difficult year for the media and entertainment industry is an understatement. And it’s not over yet.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruptions at every level, halting productions, canceling performances, and changing the methods by which content is distributed and consumed. And with no definite end in sight, it’s clear that the media and entertainment industry needs to adapt to survive.
Live Entertainment is on the Wane…
Ryan Lambert, who runs the film recommendation service Flickpicking, sees COVID-19 as one more nail in the coffin of the traditional motion-picture experience, something already in decline due to the stay-at-home convenience of streaming platforms like Netflix and Disney+.
“Tenet, the big blockbuster that insiders were hoping would help resurrect the act of in-person movie-going, has barely broken even at the box office relative to its high budget,” Lambert said, noting that, despite the industry’s best marketing efforts, audiences are unwilling to put themselves at risk of COVID exposure with visits to the multiplex.
“Mulan, another large tent pole, skipped the theatrical window entirely and was sold directly on streaming services for an increased price of $30. If this unprecedented experiment in release strategy proves successful, the Disney corporation might continue to forgo theatrical windows in favor of greater success with the streaming market.”
Of course, theatrical-release movies aren’t the only form of entertainment that has suffered a major blow due to audiences’ leeriness towards large public gatherings. Rap artist Alec Beretz released his debut album Peep This in 2019, but has had difficulty touring to support it.
“Live music entertainment seems to be doomed in the US at least until 2021,” Beretz said, though he added that the situation is less bleak in other parts of the world. “Asia and some European countries seem to be getting back to normal and having concerts again. Looking for work over there seems like the move for me.”
…But Home Entertainment is on the Rise
Fortunately, not every entertainer needs to go abroad to find work. Some, like magician Dan Chan, are able to do it from the comfort of their own homes thanks to video chat apps like Zoom.
Chan, a popular performer for corporate clients such as Apple and Google, has successfully translated his act from an in-person experience to a virtual one. And, though he admits that this approach has both pros and cons, he believes the current climate represents a rare opportunity for independent content creators to outshine their big business competitors.
“Smaller entertainment producers with less oversight will move and adapt quickly in the COVID and post-COVID eras,” Chan said. “Entertainment companies need decisive leaders who can make good decisions, as those decisions are being judged and often any missteps will be reported to the media. So smaller and midsize companies have some advantages to avoid scrutiny.
Such sentiments are echoed by Brian Gallagher, president of Pitch 5 Productions, who cites the use of remote meetings and smaller crews as some of the ways companies can continue creating content in this new age of social distancing. In contrast with those who foresee continuing blight for media and entertainment, Gallagher has observed an encouraging increase in activity as of late.
“Right now, things are red hot. Productions are happening everywhere around the country with brands, agencies, and production companies making up for lost time. Most of it is remote, but at least things are looking up,” Gallagher said, though he admitted this uptick could be a momentary fluke.
“The upcoming flu season will be the indicator on where we will be in December.”
The Future of Media and Entertainment
With winter just around the corner, it doesn’t look like the audience’s preference for home entertainment over live performance will reverse any time soon.
For those who value in-person experiences, the industry’s prospects in the COVID-19 era don’t look good. However, for entertainers who are able to reinvent themselves and find new ways of conducting business, such as through streaming and teleconferencing, the rest of 2020 still has much to offer.
“With the global pandemic happening, we believe that the media and entertainment industry will be more important than ever. The people need to take off their minds from the pandemic and find content that they enjoy consuming and brings them emotional satisfaction.” Marven Salgado, founder of online marketing agency Social Influence Builder, said.
“Businesses like Netflix are on an ascension because of the ever-increasing amount of new users that subscribe to their services while being stuck indoors. Media and entertainment are the new keys to success.”