Digitalization has prompted the evolution of more or less everything connected to the modern world. This has been felt most keenly in the worlds of work and communication, but it’s had a significant impact on entertainment too. And in the future, it seems that this relationship will only continue to strengthen and develop.
While entertainment, especially shared entertainment, has historically been a public act, the shift to the private sphere is in full swing. For sure, the future of entertainment is online. Here we’ll assess various entertainment types and how the digital revolution affects them.
There have been video games since the early days of home computing but, by and large, games have always been something that took place face to face, out in public. Over the years, however, the pendulum has begun to shift, with more gaming action taking place online than offline. And in the future? It might be a near-total washout in favor of digital gaming. Today, you can play chess, Monopoly, and slot games online, all of which used to take place only in “the real world.” Sports action might remain offline, but everything else? It’ll all be digital.
It seems odd to think about now, but for many, many decades, cinemas had a near-monopoly on the movie-watching experience. It was only in 1975, with the arrival of the home video player, that on-demand home viewing became possible (and even then, only to the wealthy). Today, people can watch more or less any movie from history whenever they want, provided they have a subscription to the video streaming platform that hosts the movie.
Streamable movies are usually ones that have long left the cinema. But that’s soon to change. Major movie studios are releasing their movies online on the same day they’re releasing the movie at the cinema. While picture houses will survive (on the basis that people like going to the cinema), this will mark a gigantic shift in how people consume movies because, usually, theatres would have exclusive showing rights to a movie for three months. It’s not too hard to envision a future where people are routinely sitting down to watch new releases from the comfort of their homes.
Musicians love playing concerts. They are less enthusiastic about traveling across the world. It may sound appealing to most people, but when you’re moving every day and only visiting the hotel room and concert hall, it becomes pretty old, pretty fast. The digital era will permit a shift.
There’s been a big rise in digital concerts over the past eighteen months, and there’s every chance that they will stick around in the coming years, too. It’s more likely that digitally streamed concerts will work in conjunction with traditional gigs rather than replacing them entirely.
The gig industry will be saved by people’s obvious preference to see a concert in person rather than via their television. You can get a sense of the gig, but it’s not as good as being at the real thing. Comedy shows are a little different.
While there’s an obvious difference between watching a show online and being there in person, it’s less pronounced than with a gig. And this could be why we see more and more agents are choosing to release comedy specials and podcasts rather than sending their act on their road.
This will likely only be a viable strategy for established acts, however, because gigging plays an important role in developing a comedian’s jokes, voice and delivery, and so on. The result would be the end of traditional comedy and the rise of a new form — like that found on YouTube and Tik Tok, etc.
With the internet touching so many aspects of our lives, including how people consume their entertainment, it’s little wonder that the entertainment industry has been so impacted. Whether this is a good or bad move for entertainment as a whole remains to be seen.