The world of entertainment is ever-evolving. From the early days of arcade games to the consoles of today, from laser discs to streaming movies now, technology marches on.
However, sometimes it isn’t just the technology that forces change, other factors can determine what happens to different industries too. The biggest change to happen to the world in recent times was the emergence of Covid. This caused huge changes in people’s lives from the way people worked to the way they shopped.
This was evidenced in the way people sought out entertainment. As traditional avenues to fun were closed, such as cinemas, other areas grew. Netflix amassed an extra 40 million subscribers over the last year or so, and much of that could be apportioned to lockdowns and the pandemic.
How has entertainment changed and does it mean the death of more traditional options?
The biggest deciding factor on how people spent their time last year was the lockdowns. This restriction meant that people took to the nearest most accessible means of entertainment. And this largely meant using the internet.
eCommerce has been changing the shape of retail for many years now and is growing rapidly. No year has seen such growth as 2020 however, and this was mostly due to the pandemic. But it isn’t just retail that is changing with more access to the internet, how people are entertained is too.
Last year saw more people than ever using streaming services, and Netflix alone had over 200 million subscribers by the first quarter of 2021. The BBC reported that there were more Google searches for online casinos than ever before. And, online video games grew even bigger.
The way entertainment has changed the most, is that individuals, couples, and families, are now most likely to enjoy their favorite pastime, at home.
What areas have changed the most?
For some, retail therapy, or shopping, is a form of entertainment. They might make a whole day out of a shopping trip by mixing in lunch with friends and cocktails after. Nowadays, more people are going online, browsing ecommerce shops, and ordering there.
The other main areas that have changed are cinema and TV, casinos and other gaming, and video games. Each of these areas had a form of online activity before the pandemic, but now they are more dependent on the internet than ever, and it is affecting land-based venues.
One industry that was hit hard last year was the cinema business. AMC Holdings Inc., the biggest cinema chain in the world, had to sign finance deals for over $900 million to avoid bankruptcy due to Covid. AMC is not the only cinema chain that has had to restructure its debts over the last year.
Not every change was caused by the pandemic though. Netflix and other streaming giants were making life difficult for the cinemas before the virus came along. The cost of visiting a movie theater, along with drinks and snacks, makes for an expensive night out. A subscription to Disney+ or Netflix is far more affordable.
Nowadays though, you have to take into account piracy too. People know how to download movies from streaming services and this means that they can make up their own libraries at home.
Casinos, sportsbooks, and bingo
The gambling industry in all of its land-based forms has been hit hard by the pandemic. Bingo halls have closed in many regions, and many are unlikely to ever open their doors again.
In the UK, at least one major bookmaker closed a number of their high street shops as at first lockdowns hit their revenue, and then the internet lured more customers away. Online gaming sites such as Energy Casino have been supplying games such as poker, and the opportunity for sports betting while the lockdowns have been in place.
Casinos themselves have found themselves unable to open, and even now they suffer from reduced capacity. This has led to many players going online to enjoy their favorite games such as slots and blackjack. And, some people are even making a living playing in online casinos.
Online video games were already popular before Covid, but there has still been a shift in the way these products are purchased and enjoyed. Video games now are often streamed for viewing pleasure on sites such as Twitch, which is a new phenomenon. The way games are bought has changed over the years too.
Steam allows gamers to download new content without even leaving the home. This has affected traditional retail venues such as GameStop. Although the store had a good end of 2020, they have been closing hundreds of stores over the last couple of years. Perhaps not surprisingly, they are concentrating on ecommerce.
Will these changes be permanent?
It is probably fair to assume that a number of people will want to return to restaurants, cinemas, casinos, and visit shopping malls in person. However, the fear of infection and the convenience of ordering food and entertainment online may mean there is a much lower footfall.
There are many reasons for playing in a site such as Energy Casino instead of a land-based gaming room. Not least, the lack of travel, anonymity, and 24/7 opening. When it comes to cinemas, they provide a great experience, but they can be expensive, and some audience members can be noisy.
When it comes to video games, it is unlikely that land-based retailers will become as strong as they once were. It makes little sense for an online gamer to walk to a store when they can just download. The only benefit is the consumer would receive a physical copy of the game, and that for some are important.
It would seem that while casinos and cinemas may draw a number of people back, the numbers may never match previous times. Casinos and cinemas both offer an experience that cannot be matched at home, but there are many benefits to streaming and online casinos.
The video game industry will continue to thrive and grow, but the retail sector looks likely to move ever more online. The future of entertainment seems like it may be located on the sofa at home unless things radically change.
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