A few days back my colleague Chris wrote about how physical attendance at many live events is thinning out even as global online interest climbs.
This hit me hard as I spoke with a friend who drives sponsorships for a well-known entertainment venue. He told it was tougher than ever this year to get the usual players to commit to sponsorships. Deals closed later and with more strain and negotiation than in past years. He shared how ticket sales were getting less predictable for some of their classic events – even while production costs were going up.
I thought of the scale of the global athletic event industry – US $480-620B in value per 2014 estimates (ATKearney) – as well as the $20B + live concert business (Billboard). Clearly these businesses are major financial engines. What’s happening as established producers, venues, and sometimes even talent feel the squeeze?
I think the problem lies in the way so many in the industry surrounding innovation got too big, to rich, too set in their ways. They doubled down on the models that had worked, maximizing shareholder value, or so they thought, rather than killing those sacred cash cows that in retrospect were starting to limp anyway. It’s a classic business challenge, actually: “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” as Clayton Christensen would say.
Many of them also overlooked the power shift inherent in the rise of the Internet: how it put control into talent’s hands and allowed them to challenge the stronghold of the infrastructure they’d once needed to connect with audiences and business value. Entertainment icons including Dustin Hoffman and Irving Azoff – people who’ve watched the industry for decades – call this out and slam the big players for missing the shift.
But there hasn’t been an answer: no easy way for anyone, from talent to sponsor to venue, to do anything about it. There hasn’t been a place to go where everybody can get more than what the current reality delivers.
You know what I’m going to say next: That’s what we’re working on. You’re right. It’s time for the entertainment industry to reinvent, even reimagine, itself, on the level it deserves. It’s not going to happen with little band-aid fixes that promise incremental improvements but overlook the big fissures the industry is showing. It’s not an easy fix and it won’t happen overnight.
When we are able to give venues a new way to make entertainment experiences more juicy and immersive for their audiences, let them connect with people before and after events, give sponsors new insights into the actual attributes and behavior that fuel their business models – all in a way that audiences actually want – we’ll open up some eyes.
There is a new way to experience live events, and it gives everyone in that ecosystem ways to benefit from today’s digital reality (and tomorrow’s innovations) in win-win ways.