Many businesses including restaurants, coffee shops, travel agencies and music venues were affected by the pandemic. 2021 was a year of juxtapositions for the entertainment and hospitality industry. With theatres, cinemas and music venues closed across the globe, unprecedented job losses and drops in revenue were a major issue for artists and promoters alike. It’s not all bad news for the creative sector – huge gains were seen in the global video streaming field, and it’s set to continue climbing well into next year and beyond. So, just how has the entertainment business changed in 2021?
The rise of global streaming services has been astronomical since Netflix first incorporated the delivery system into its brand in 2007. Covid-19 turned an already profitable business model into an economic juggernaut. The streaming market is set to close the year with a valuation of almost $60 billion – that’s up $10 billion on last year’s figures. The voracity with which audiences consumed streaming content during the pandemic was not without its pitfalls – major complaints made by audiences include the lack of consolidation among services, monthly costs of each streaming giant and a tendency towards whitewashing even in new original productions.
These concerns are set to revolutionise the industry from here on out – with steps already being taken to resolve them. Thankfully, lead African American actors are now proportionally represented in cable shows and overrepresented in total cast breakdowns in both broadcast and cable programs. The greatest change yet to be fully embraced is representation of both Latino and Asian performers – something audiences can look forward to seeing more of in future productions.
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Streaming services aside, the pandemic also saw a global shift in approaches to live entertainment. With many performers shifting towards livestreaming on social media to ensure their work continues reaching audiences, the live performance sector saw major downturn in profits in 2020. 2021 has seen in the industry revived in many countries and this upward trajectory is set to continue next year. The sector has had to adapt to the challenges of the pandemic, however – promoters use a variety of new techniques to keep attendees safe. Mandatory face masks, negative covid tests, proof of vaccination and social distancing requirements are now the norm at larger events and are set to stay in place for some time.
Another area that has enjoyed a major boon is the gaming sector. With many people either afraid of socialising in large crowds or simply growing accustomed to spending time at home, online gaming has become a popular leisure activity during the course of the pandemic. With many still choosing to socialise online despite the end of lockdowns, the gaming industry is set continue its exponential growth over the coming years – by 2026, the sector is estimated to be worth $295 billion worldwide.
It appears that, while live performance will continue to be held dear by audiences, the outbreak of Covid-19 has irrevocably changed the entertainment industry. Artists will continue to make use of livestreaming to connect with fans, streaming services will further adapt to suit customer needs and the gaming sector will generate record profits into the future. In a post-pandemic world, one thing is certain – the increased reliance on technology in entertainment is most definitely here to stay.
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