Across the commercial sectors, there is a more negative view of organisations but for the entertainment sector, there is a two speed theme, with digital services exploding while live content suffers.
The entertainment sector is facing competing challenges as the pandemic develops, with positive and negative developments creating a ‘two-speed’ change in the sector:
Fast speed: The explosion of digital and streaming services is seen as a significant development and organisations who are either already part of, or able to enter this space, will be expected to survive and thrive.
Slow speed: Live performance organisations are expected to be significantly hit and a number likely to close down. Note that there does not seem to be as much sympathy for those types of organisations in this sector as for health or wellbeing public services.
On the 6-month financial horizon, there is some hope for ‘normality’ to be renewed, but a much wider expectation of a second wave and further social distancing measures is likely to mean that organisations will face the same, continuing challenges.
From a wellbeing perspective, there is a recognition that perhaps lockdown restrictions will enhance people's awareness of the need for entertainment, especially those involving social interaction, for example, where groups of people visit a location.
This theme was developed in other sectors such as wellbeing and public sector where the time experienced without a service has underlined its importance. There is the potential for the industry to use the time to encourage a reassessment of the sector and enhance the ‘feelgood’ impact upon wellbeing.
The risk is that the sector focuses too much on the financial challenges and the cry for help, and alienates audiences, particularly in the UK with the very significant injection of funds in the arts and cultural sector of £1.57bn in July.
The way in which these funds are now deployed across the fast speed and slow speed tracks described above is likely to make a difference to public perception. Will these funds focus on sustaining the parts of the industry to stay alive until audiences return or will they be deployed for organisations to create new ways of delivering content and generating income? And which of these options is most palatable to audiences?
There is an opportunity to replace direct entertainment with digital engagement, but it will be important to consult customers on this journey.
So what are the key implications for the sector?
As with consolidated data from the research, the most important thing an organisation in the entertainment industry can do is to stay economically active - at least in the short term. This may mean being active with just a skeleton level of staff, but this will still be beneficial in the long term.
Secondly, as indicated above, organisations should consider digitising where necessary. Where physical entertainment is the hero content, use digital content to connect audiences in other ways.
Thirdly, the sector should enhance its ‘feelgood’ nature, at a time when people are searching for positivity. Whether this is offline or online, it is sure to pay dividends.
Finally, as lockdown situations change across the country, organisations could consider transforming their services to turn restrictions into an opportunity. Perhaps they could make particular allowances for group activities and use enhanced COVID-specific MGM activities to encourage COVID-secure group participation e.g. a 6-person cinema ticket, or a ‘bring your bubble’ offer.