OPINION: The rise of personalised entertainment

DHAKA (The Daily Star/ANN) - The advent of newer technology, such as 5G communication, will impact the business of entertainment to a great extent going forward.  

The face of entertainment is fast changing. There has been a continuous shift over the years in this medium. Rather than being classified as just the audience or spectators, individuals are now being increasingly recognised as consumers of media content. The number of avenues of entertainment are also increasing notably. 

The increase in the availability of entertainment opportunities and the freedom to choose them as per preferences, contexts and schedules has been welcomed by consumers.

Consumers have become increasingly mobile. At the same time, they want increased control over the time and method of their experience of media content. They do so by managing their media consumption via smartphones and an expanding range of devices and by curating their personal choices.

They are also using over-the-top (OTT) services, and increasing their use of digital media content via smart homes, connected cars and other interactive devices. The concept of ‘appointment viewing’ is fast emerging.

In fact, appointment viewing is not that new a phenomenon. A few centuries ago, in South Asia, entertainment was only meant for the rich and ruling class, and these events were scheduled as per the viewers’ choice.

Over a period of time, entertainment has also become accessible to the masses. As a result, the schedule and location of such events were controlled by the producers and organisers. However, with entertainment becoming digitalised, the control is shifting back to the consumers.

However, scheduled entertainment is still quite popular, particularly in the sports segment.  According to the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the organising body of World Cup soccer, about 1.12 billion people, i.e. one in every seven people across the globe watched the final match live in 2018. 

In this case, the schedule was determined by FIFA, and the event was broadcast live as per its schedule. The content was available via the traditional mediums of television and radio, as well as on digital platforms.

The advent of newer technology, such as 5G communication, will impact the business of entertainment to a great extent going forward.  While it is understood that the impact of 5G technology will cover most of the industries, entertainment and media companies are expected to adopt it earlier than the others and disrupt the market.

A recent study conducted by PwC’s Strategy& highlighted that mobile telecom operators will form partnerships with OTT service providers to bundle their services with connectivity subscriptions.

In Bangladesh, a few start-up OTT companies are already getting support from mobile telecom operators to produce and sell content using the operators’ infrastructure and subscriber base. 

We will increasingly see content being bundled with the basic offerings, and being used as monetising tools for telecom operators.

Thus, traditional media content distribution companies, such as movie distributors, will have to compete with mobile telecom operators for viewership and revenue. Some of them may evolve into OTT service providers as well.

This raises questions regarding the future of traditional entertainment media. In Bangladesh, there exist a number of avenues of traditional entertainment, ranging from rural entertainment to city-based entertainment centres to sporting events. 

While a good number of these will continue to offer quality entertainment, there will be an increased shift towards digital content consumption.

Newer technologies such as virtual reality will drive the business of video games, and this will supplement traditional sports-based entertainment.  With the increased adoption of 5G communication technology, VR-based entertainment will gain more prominence. Today, VR-based media content is limited to industrial use, such as business-to-business communication.

5G communication technology will help increase the adoption of VR in the retail consumer segment through entertainment and gaming content.

According to PwC’s Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2019-23, global digital revenues have risen consistently from 40.7 percent to 53.1 percent over the last five years. 

The report projects that the share of digital revenue will continue to rise in the next five years, and will reach 61.6 percent by 2023. While the market size of global entertainment is expected to rise during this period, the growth of digital revenues will surpass the overall growth.

As there is greater personalisation of media and e-commerce experiences, consumers are increasingly demanding instant gratification. This necessitates the use of digital technology at the point of consumption for both content distributors and marketers, and is resulting in a rapidly-increasing number of consumer touchpoints. 

The concept of ‘shoppable branding’ is fast emerging. In such instances, media content is created in a way so as to allow viewers to access the brand’s e-commerce platform and fill the shopping cart with one tap on the screen.

As the entertainment sector becomes increasingly digital, it will generate a significant volume of data.  All transactions, however small, are being stored and can be used for analysis of consumer behaviour.

In other words, while consumers are being entertained, the content is tracking their viewership. This may give rise to concerns about data privacy and security. The need to build trust will increasingly become central to the business agenda of entertainment companies, both globally and in Bangladesh. 

Every interaction with the consumer in the digital domain will have the ability to strengthen or break trust.

The wave of personalisation is a global phenomenon that is going to impact the entertainment industry in Bangladesh as well.  Enabled with technological advancements, appointment viewing is going to be the new normal. With easy access to global content for entertainment, entertainment companies will find competition becoming borderless. Hence, these companies would need to evaluate their business plan in order to navigate in this new landscape of entertainment.

(The writer is a Partner at PwC. The views expressed here are personal.)

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