It’s no longer a surprise that streaming soared during lockdown but what will delight the industry is that the habit appears to have stuck. Not only are we all subscribing to more services, we’re watching more content and we’re willing to pay for more of it — provided there’s a more participatory relationship between consumers and film and TV stars.
Among 1,000 U.S. consumers surveyed in April, over two thirds (67%) said they plan to continue to spend more time consuming entertainment than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report, “Forever Changed: COVID-19’s Lasting Impact on the Entertainment Industry,” released by United Talent Agency.
Its findings challenge the notion that consumers wouldn’t pay for more than two streaming services in a crowded marketplace, with 56% of consumers surveyed saying they added at least one subscription streaming service during lockdown. After the pandemic, 71% of those surveyed said they plan to use more than one SVOD.
According to the UTA report, one in three respondents said that they plan to subscribe to or use more platforms; one in four plan to consume more genres; and one in three said they plan to consume more international content and/or stories by diverse voices.
Consumers are more open to try out new formats or types of content, including documentaries, educational videos and foreign dramas such as the French thriller Lupin, the report noted.
The agency also suggests we are headed into the “golden age of fandom.” Some 20% of consumers said they’d be more willing to pay for exclusive content from influencers and celebrities than they were before COVID. A third said they are more likely to take up a hobby inspired by entertainment, like chess thanks to The Queen’s Gambit.
In addition to streaming services, consumers also spent a lot of time on social media during the pandemic, becoming more familiar with platforms such as Cameo that allow consumers to pay for personalized, exclusive content.
“During the pandemic, consumers developed a new and deeper relationship with entertainment and media,” said Joe Kessler, global head of UTA IQ, a research, analytics and digital strategy division of the agency. “They spent more time with content and became more exploratory across genres and platforms. Entertainment and media proved a reliable escape from our stay-at-home lives. The key issue now is whether this gives way to a more enduring shift in behavior and expectations. What consumers are telling us is that now that they have formed many new habits, they won’t let them go.”
Kessler urged talent to experiment with new ways to reach fans. “We’ve got a ready-made universe of consumers who want it. This is the time to experiment. This is the time to try new things.”