It’s hard to say exactly what kind of the year 2020 has been for the entertainment industry.
While cinemas and theatres across the western world are facing permanent closure and musicians await the opportunity to tour again, online entertainment is finding more eyeballs than ever before.
We live in abnormal times, but there is a suggestion that the pandemic has merely sped up a shift towards more online entertainment. However, could the thirst for in-person performances after almost a year without them push people to reject their screens?
In this article, we’ll explore the potential future of online entertainment, what form it will take, and the faces we’ll come to associate with it.
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Streaming is everywhere, even if we don’t fully understand it.
It’s funny to see something that started primarily as a way for the gaming community to share experience explodes into the primary vehicle for both online and offline celebrities to reach new audiences in 2020.
Considering the revenue some Twitch celebrities bring in from the original streaming platform, it would come as no surprise to see more big names move to evenings playing the latest hit game to build their fan bases.
Platforms such as YouTube and Facebook have jumped on the streaming train recently, signaling a realization from entertainment leaders of the kind of content younger people want to see. Streaming offers a unique, real-time connection with the presenter and the loose honesty that people have come to appreciate from online entertainment, rather than a polished media product.
Of course, it is primarily the western world where coronavirus has driven the entertainment industry to an almost screeching halt.
In the absence of western productions, some suggest this could be the time where international (particularly Asian) films find a wider audience abroad. This type of international reach could act as a sign for companies and individuals across all levels of entertainment — there is an audience for you across the seas.
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In truth, we already live in a highly globalized world, where decisions are made with an international audience in mind. However, we could well see that increase further. As the internet becomes the main form of communication and a hub for all things entertainment, it will be easier for an international audience to consume content.
It’s not just films, television and music either! Entertainment of all forms is finding an audience abroad. Music is more international than ever before, while gaming is a social activity that routinely brings millions of people together every day. Even the lottery has gone international, with sites such as PlayHugeLottos making games such as the US Powerball accessible to an overseas audience.
Expect this globalization to only grow, with an international point of view determining more decision making around content.
Who exactly is the modern celebrity?
Ask someone young and media-savvy who their idol is and you’re unlikely to hear the name of Hollywood’s biggest stars. While these celebrities still have a significant cache, younger people are turning to the internet and so-called ‘normal’ people for their superstars.
This isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. The YouTube/social media celebrity dominated the 2010s, from vloggers to Tik Tok dance stars. However, there is something about the latter and how they have stepped away from the corners of internet fandom and into the mainstream limelight that signals a significant change in entertainment and culture.
If traditional entertainment is to draw people away from their phones, they need to use these stars with huge followings to boost their content. This is a trend that had already started taking shape, with many Tik Tok celebrities being hired to front major podcasts.
The internet is no longer scary to most people and its stars, while not as polished, are like the movie stars of our times.
An increasingly common part of enjoying modern entertainment is selecting which services you want to be subscribed to.
It’s become common for streaming content fans to joke about how they’ve lost track of how many platforms they’re subscribed to, with Disney+’s launch last year adding to an ever-growing list largely dominated by Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu.
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The focus on high-quality original content and accessibility through mobile devices makes these platforms a safer bet for many entertainment companies. We could soon see what would previously have been theatre releases going straight to streaming platforms.
However, the high profile failure of apps such as Quibi, which looked to re-think streaming content for a more time-conscious audience with 5-10 videos may lead to major companies holding back on launches until we’ve moved on from the coronavirus pandemic. Two billion dollars raised and A-list actor involvement in original content couldn’t save Quibi, suggesting at least some level of streaming fatigue.
The entertainment industry is such a broad and volatile landscape at this present moment that trying to predict any trends is a foolish exercise.
While many of us feel we finally have our finger on the pulse of the crossover between the internet and traditional entertainment, a new format could easily gain traction in the way streaming did and throw all expectations out of the window.
The future is much like the past, demanding flexibility and hyper-awareness to avoid being left behind and make the most of a post-COVID entertainment world.
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