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Introduction to the Entertainment & Media Industry, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

The Coronavirus pandemic created very diverse results within the entertainment and publishing industry—depending on the services and products offered.  It had a devastating effect on those sectors that require in-person attendance (such as theaters, theme parks and live events).  At the same time, it caused remote viewing/streaming of entertainment and content of all types to soar (including electronic games, movies and video of all types).  By the beginning of 2023, many entertainment sectors had returned to somewhat normal operations, with growing in-person attendance.
In recent years, entertainment, media and publishing have digitized, evolving into a highly dynamic industry, interconnected by global digital platforms in a manner that few people could even have conceived of a few decades ago.  We’ve gone from static and flat (that is: books and media printed on paper, music on CDs, movies rented on DVD at the local Blockbuster and TV networks that forced the viewer to be in front of the screen at a given hour in order to watch a given show) to always-on, user-controlled, portable and always-with-you.  Now, the industry is driven by the needs, habits and desires of individual consumers: delivering content that is accessible as customized digital streams; serving up news, entertainment, movies, ebooks and music on-demand.  If you don’t know what you want to watch, listen to or read, the best digital platforms push suggestions to you.
Entertainment and media, as a broad sector, are somewhat unique in that revenues are generated by multiple methods.  Primarily, these methods are:  1) outright purchase, such as the download of an ebook or the purchase of a magazine or a movie theater ticket; 2) subscription, such as cable TV fees, Netflix fees or subscriptions to magazines or to music on Pandora; and 3) advertising fees.  Many media rely on a combination of subscription fees plus advertising revenues.  For example, most magazines have a cover price, but they also contain paid advertising.  Elsewhere, subscribers pay for cable TV service, but then are subjected to seemingly endless commercials on cable channels.
Advertising revenues remain of vast importance to this industry, and the internet has created a multitude of new outlets for such advertising.  Global advertising media revenues were estimated to be $837 billion in 2022, according to Magna Global, a unit of advertising agency leader Interpublic Group.  Much of this revenue is made in online media, and the fastest growing markets are in developing nations such as China, Indonesia and India.  America continues to be the world’s largest media market.
Today, digital media of all types must be included when considering the scope of the entertainment and media industry.  As of the end of 2022, according to Plunkett Research estimates, broadband internet connections in U.S. homes and businesses totaled 499.1 million, including wireless subscribers with access via smartphones and tablets.  This means there is a vast market for online entertainment and media, and this segment represents one of the most important advertising revenue markets.  Magna estimates that digital advertising totaled $616 billion worldwide in 2022.
Newspapers have been dramatically hurt by online alternatives.  They are finding it increasingly difficult to compete against online news and advertising rivals.  Many of America’s leading newspapers have gone bankrupt, while others have downsized or become electronic only.  The most successful newspapers have evolved into powerful online and print combinations, offering subscribers and advertisers a choice of digital, print or both.  Both newspapers and magazines have adopted formats and new technologies with the goal of making themselves highly relevant and readable for internet users on PCs, and for mobile users on smartphones, tablets, ebook readers and other digital devices.
Recorded music sales are facing powerful competition from Pandora, Spotify and similar internet-based music subscription services.  Traditional radio broadcasting is hurting, finding it challenging to gather listeners for advertising-based radio programming due to such alternatives as satellite radio.  The satellite-based radio service, SiriusXM, had 34.0 million paid subscribers by late 2022.  In February 2019, SiriusXM completed its acquisition of Pandora, giving SiriusXM access to a global online customer base.
In the film industry, gross U.S. box office receipts for 2021 were down dramatically due to the Coronavirus to $3.5 billion.  Meanwhile, film production companies are suffering from dwindling DVD sales, as more viewers download them from Amazon.com or Netflix instead of buying films.  Both emerging and mature economies outside the U.S. are of prime importance to film revenues.
New television sets are internet-enabled, meaning viewers are able to connect directly to entertainment options online, and apps on the screens of the newest TV sets makes it extremely convenient to connect to streaming services like Netflix.  This brings up an important question:  where will TV viewers of the future get their programming?  Cable and satellite subscriptions are expensive, and do not appeal to many consumers, especially those under 35 years of age.  Consumers have been dropping their paid cable and satellite TV subscriptions in large numbers, opting to watch lower-cost programming that is streamed online via services such as Hulu.com. 
While content providers such as Disney and ESPN have long earned vast revenues by distributing through cable systems such as Comcast and satellite systems such as DISH, they are now also offering their own, inexpensive monthly subscriptions services that stream online.  These low-cost, monthly internet-based plans are viable alternatives to expensive cable or satellite subscriptions.  They tend to be user-friendly, with no additional equipment to install, no credit check, and no long-term subscription contracts required.  Another vital advantage is that they can be watched on smartphones.
Also, consumers are eagerly buying relatively inexpensive devices that make it simple to connect their internet-ready TVs to online content.  Competitors in this field include Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV and Amazon Fire.  Roku connectors, for example, can be purchased for less than $50, and deliver hundreds of popular content apps to the TV screen, enabling the user to easily click to watch HBOgo, Netflix, PBS, YouTube and myriad other content providers (some of which require separate subscription fees).  In the newest TV sets, tools such as Roku are built in.
The burning issue affecting all sectors of the entertainment and media industry is maintaining control of content and audiences while taking advantage of myriad new electronic delivery venues.  Competition in the entertainment sector is fierce.  Gone are the days when television and radio programmers enjoyed captive audiences who happily sat through ad after ad or planned their schedules around a favorite show.  Consumers now demand near-total control over what they watch, read and listen to.

Issues Related to Control of Entertainment and News Content:
1) Pricing for content, including free-of-charge access versus paid subscriptions; illegal downloads versus authorized downloads; and full ownership of a paid download versus pay-per-view.
2) Portability, including the ability for a consumer to download once and then use a file on multiple platforms and devices, including tablets and smartphones, or the ability to share a download with friends or family.
3) Delayed viewing or listening, such as viewing TV programming at the consumer’s convenience via TiVo and similar digital video recorders.
Source: Plunkett Research, Ltd.

     The competition among entertainment delivery platforms has intensified; all sectors face daunting challenges from alternative delivery methods.  For example, telecommunications companies such as AT&T and Verizon are now delivering television programming to the home via high-speed internet connections, battling cable and satellite TV firms for market share.
Meanwhile, platforms and delivery methods are evolving quickly.  Smartphones are widely used for entertainment purposes, including games, videos, sports and TV-like programming.  Game machines have become multipurpose, with the ability to connect to the internet.  Broadband to the home has matured into a vast mass-market medium, while wireless broadband systems such as Wi-Fi are enhancing the mobility of entertainment and media access.  A serious evolution of access and delivery methods will continue at a rapid-fire pace, and media companies will be forced to be more nimble than ever.  5G ultrafast cellular telephone systems will be the next leap forward.
Recommendation software that learns the habits and tastes of consumers have evolved to do a better job of pushing appropriate entertainment content toward audiences.  Amazon.com has long been a leader in the use of such software.  Pandora and Spotify recommend music to users.  Netflix has created an admirable technology of its own.  Likewise, Apple’s iTunes software is strong on recommending content to customers.
Count on continued, lightning-fast changes in the entertainment, media and publishing environment.  As the revolution in new media continues, platforms will evolve quickly, consumers will obtain even greater control and competition will become even hotter.  Meanwhile, the global audience is growing quickly, thanks to emerging middle classes in developing nations as well as the booming spread of smartphones and internet access.


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