The Big Media & Entertainment Industry Trends for 2021


Who did you see more of this pandemic: your friends or your favorite streaming service?

The answer is almost definitely the latter. There was little else to do than devour every new drop of media and entertainment that came our way. 

New series, favorite movies, old concerts – you name it, we consumed it in 2020. And it all translated into big business. The global video streaming market size was estimated
at USD $50.11 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach USD $59.14 billion in 2021 – considerable growth undoubtedly bolstered by our time spent at home.

After such a big year, what will the media and entertainment industry do next? Here are a few trends you should be expecting. 

Trend #1: Reimagining live entertainment

For live entertainment lovers, 2020 was the worst year on record. Festivals were cancelled, reunion tours were called off, and millions of stadium seats across the globe gathered dust. 

These events not only make up a chunk of our social lives, they can also generate big business. Live entertainment brings in millions of dollars, not just to the companies that put them on but to local economies too. In 2020, Sundance brought an estimated $150 million to Park City
. While music festivals like Coachella and Stagecoach generated more than $700 million just a few years ago. 

That money doesn’t just appear. People need to be in these locations for communities to reap the benefits. Canceling SXSW, for example, led to an estimated $350 million hit to tourism income for the city of Austin. 

That’s all to say that in-person events are likely to see a pronounced return in 2021. Humans crave physical, shared experiences and the entertainment industry is prepared to do the necessary work to make it happen.

For many people, 2020 was a harsh wake-up call about the importance of shared experiences. For others, a level of accessibility was achieved as a byproduct of our lockdown. The pandemic opened the door to creating events that are available to a much larger and more diverse audience. This could lay the groundwork for long-needed updates to traditional formats.

Trend #2: Subscription services must increase focus on customer service

The 2021 Brandwatch Customer Experience report
found that conversation about entertainment subscriptions tends to be more negative than positive. Many people complained about the price of subscriptions, especially when there are so many on offer. 

Entertainment brands in this world face increased competition and will have to fight hard to show why their subscription is worth the money. The good news is that great content will be amplified by consumers. If the quality is there, it’ll be celebrated online.

It will be interesting to see which platforms weather the storm in another five years. In order to do so, they’ll need premium content, modest prices, and new content creators in their ranks.

Trend #3: More streaming consolidation 

It’s mind-blowing to consider just how saturated the streaming industry is compared to just five years ago. In Leichtman Research Group’s 14th annual study
of streaming, using a sample of 1,990 households, the company found that 78% of them have a subscription to a top streaming service, up from 52% in 2015.

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated consumer willingness to experiment with their entertainment options. The hard lines that used to exist between content and distribution channels are increasingly blurry. 

In order to stay agile, many entertainment companies have formed alliances, and those who haven’t risk falling behind. Consolidating platforms also involves acquiring additional content which, in turn, opens the window for an increased monthly subscription rate. This could also potentially save consumers money – after all, one expensive subscription is still probably cheaper than two separate standard ones.


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