The ways in which we consume and share entertainment have changed considerably in recent years. Different entertainment medias have been altered massively by digital disruption. These days, who among us doesn’t have a virtual existence of some sort? Zoom meetings have become an integral part of our working lives, our spare time is filled with social media scanning and YouTube bingeing, and content streaming has replaced going to the movies.
In fact, according to industry statistics, the cinema industry experienced a 70.4% decline in revenue in 2020. Furthermore, research conducted by PwC has predicted that subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) and streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video will surge in popularity, eventually becoming twice as popular with global consumers as the box office by 2024.
Far from being a passing trend, virtual content is here to stay. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the meteoric rise of digital realms and considering the future of entertainment.
Digitising our Daily Habits
Think back, if you can, to the turn of the 21st century. Just two decades ago, our daily lives looked and were very different. Mobile phones were far from ubiquitous and didn’t serve the broad range of demographic that they do now. Only around 6% of households across the globe had internet access, and attending in-person events was how we spent our downtime.
Then, the 2010s came along, arguably the most transformative decade for the progression and integration of digital technology. Within the space of a few years, everything began to change. Mobile internet upgraded from 3G to 4G – driving up the daily usage amongst consumers to 3.3 hours in the process – and social media began to take over as a primary method of communication. Data storage shifted to the cloud, and AI and VR became a mainstream reality.
The Impact on Entertainment
We only have to look at the technology we live with now to see the impact that the virtual world has had on entertainment. Physical copies of video games, once the mainstay of the entire gaming industry, are slowly becoming obsolete as the focus is shifting towards cloud gaming and streaming platforms. And who actually goes out and purchases CDs anymore when you can access an artist’s entire back catalogue through the likes of Spotify?
Fascinatingly, the digitisation of media and entertainment has also spawned other prominent trends, such as crowd-funding. By utilising the power of virtual connectivity and digital technologies, consumers are playing an active role in the creation of new movies, music, and online video games.
Along with trends, digitisation has played a substantial role in the creation of new industries, such as eSports. The idea of thousands of audience members crowding into an arena to watch video gamers compete against each other probably seemed quite laughable back in the year 2000, but in 2021 it’s very much a reality and one that also generates a huge following.
Virtual at-home entertainment experiences too have become a major tech trend this last decade, pioneered in part by the rise of the iGaming industry. Online casino operators made full casinos and gaming rooms available in the virtual realm, which in some cases proved to be more popular with consumers than their brick and mortar counterparts due to their attractive offers and promotions.
More recently, we’ve even seen this approach used by entertainment giants like Disney and Warner Bros, with major movie titles being released as “premium digital products”
The latest iteration of virtual entertainment, however, will take place on a much larger scale.
Step into the Metaverse
Who would’ve thought that a Swedish pop band in their 70s would lead the charge into a new form of virtual live entertainment? Well, that’s exactly what ABBA are doing with their brand new Voyage concert.
Set to take place in a purpose-built venue in London, the ground-breaking show is a collaboration between Industrial Light & Magic, choreographer Wayne McGregor and, of course, the legendary foursome themselves.
Audiences will be able to buy tickets and attend the virtual concert, which will be performed by the group’s ABBAtars and a 10-piece orchestra. With a rumoured 8 shows a week planned, this is an experience that could run indefinitely and set a blueprint for the future of live entertainment.