I’ve been worried this week about my lagging talent for “social distancing,” but the release of new data has spurred a vital shift in attitude: I am not a victim of dire news events, I now realize, but rather am riding the wave of the future. “Distancing” has improved my perspective, even if I am locked out of my office.
According to the new numbers, consumer spending on digital home entertainment has surged to record levels this year while box office revenues have been stagnant, with the pace of change increasing dramatically. The message: The whole world is basically stuck on their living room couches, not just those of us whose isolation stems from the tyranny of pandemics.
Worldwide spending on digital home entertainment surged to $48.7 billion last year according to data released this week, representing a 24% jump. This number was released regretfully by the Motion Picture Association, which also admitted that actual ticket sales were stuck in the mud.
The subtext: this dramatic shift has taken place even as Disney+ and other streaming initiatives are just starting their surge and Netflix is amping up its international push. Further, with theater, sports and festivals canceled around the world, the public’s digital dependency will inevitably grow exponentially. Hollywood’s delayed release of its major new franchise films will further fuel the gap.
If couches are winning over the movie seats, mobile devices, too, are gaining fast. Americans spent more time on their phones last year than on watching television (excluding voice activities). And 85% of children between the ages of 2 and 17 now watch TV shows or movies on mobile devices. And this is before Jeffrey Katzenberg mobilizes his short-form video engine Quibi, launching in April.
With the behavior of children as well as adults undergoing profound changes, clearly movie theaters, concert halls and stadiums will increasingly suffer the sounds of silence. Just like our offices.
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