By Hersh Shah
2020 has been an unprecedented year for all industries, including media and entertainment. Theaters were forced to close, and events like live concerts seemed to be memories of the distant past. Advertising spending has been reduced as companies cut costs, affecting the revenue of the entertainment industry. 10 to 12% of cinemas in the country closed permanently in August.
The situation has become equally dire in other parts of the world. China was facing 40% shutdown of its cinemas, while in the US and UK, the second-largest chain of cinemas, Cineworld, closed. The large multiplex chain AMC Theaters has also been threatened with imminent closure. The bright spots in 2020 have come in the form of online content including OTT, esports and online games which have seen remarkable growth. Time spent on gaming apps increased by 21% during the initial nationwide lockdown, with total customer base surpassing 300 million users.
The good news is that most pundits predict that the entertainment industry downturn will ease, as it bounces back with equal energy. According to a report from KPMG, the media and entertainment sector will experience a strong recovery by fiscal 2022, with growth of more than 33% compared to fiscal 2020. While games and digital will lead the way. recovery, printing and television revenues will also slowly gain ground. This bodes well for the sector, as industries like film and television are benefiting from a boost in advertising spending.
The situation is returning to normal as movie theaters open up in parts of the country with limited occupancy. The focus, for now, has shifted to bringing the public back and resuming operations, while respecting precautionary measures. However, given the health concerns, the situation remains uncertain. Therefore, it is essential that any change in operations is undertaken with a risk conscious approach, in order to mitigate any negative impact.
Risk management in the entertainment industry
A well-planned risk management approach is essential to take any proactive action to tackle the current situation. It will be a question of identifying the risks which the sector is now facing, their evaluation and their treatment. Given the critical condition of many entertainment-based businesses, the focus must remain on minimizing risk, while finding new ways to develop content and attract new audiences. Industry must consider innovative approaches to achieve this goal.
Online / TV for live events: The pandemic has opened up virtual media as a means of building public loyalty. The IPL 2020 series was among the first sporting events to show how the loss of spectators on the ground could be partially offset by television viewing. The 2020 IPL saw a 23% jump from the 2019 IPL, in terms of TV audience, with an average impressions per game, based on total time spent, also reaching 31.57 million. Even live gigs have changed online, as evidenced by artists such as Coldplay, Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga, who kept their audiences entertained during the lockdown, with home concerts. Organizers can follow the example by live streaming future events. When physical distancing standards limit the number of spectators, live streaming can offset the decline in ticket sales.
Also read: Make sure 5G doesn’t disrupt satellite TV viewing in India: broadcasters
Monetization of online content: One of the challenges of monetizing online content is the sheer volume of free content available, which has forced providers to find new ways to generate revenue. Some OTT platforms have tiered or consumption-based subscription cost models that protect margin, while capitalizing on increased demand. Higher costs can be determined by type of content or by number of viewers / screens. Similar subscription models can be adopted by radio, online content or television to reduce dependence on advertisements.
Digital first and foremost: India is the fastest growing OTT market in the world and is expected to be the sixth largest market by 2024. According to a PwC report, subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) has, for the first time, overtaken box office income. The most popular platforms for SVOD are OTT channels and hence a slight increase indicates the growing popularity of OTT platforms. He also revealed that OTT platforms are a long-term source of revenue for the industry, rather than an emergency measure. These platforms have provided a much needed source of income for Indian creators, as established film production companies have joined the movement with blockbuster series. Many movie studios, including the cash-rich South Indian market, have also stepped up their releases via the OTT channel. Going digital first may therefore be the most viable option for the film industry, at least in the short to medium term.
Mobile market: India has the second largest internet population, with mobile phones accounting for 73% of total web traffic in 2019. The media and entertainment industry has therefore made a clear and noticeable shift to the mobile space, with musicians using streaming music. platforms and the podcast industry taking over from radio. Artists of various mediums are now considering collaborations with different platforms on mobile, including social media, esports and podcasts, to increase their visibility and reach, while also marketing directly to the public.
Esports to become mainstream: The esports market in India has experienced remarkable growth, almost doubling its growth over the past two years, with revenues expected to reach $ 68 million by the end of fiscal 2020 and grow even faster. in 2021. The next step would be to go. general public with local and national leagues.
These are some of the alternatives to ensure public engagement in the current scenario where security restrictions and the risk of new outbreaks still hamper full resumption of activities. As normalcy slowly returns, these steps can help mitigate the risk of hearing loss and income shortfall. By ensuring audience engagement, content creators can ensure rapid renewal and adaptation to changing circumstances.
The author is the CEO of the Indian branch of the Institute of Risk Management. The opinions expressed are personal.
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