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Predictions for Media & Entertainment Industry during Covid 19

Peter Scathy

COVID-19 forever changed many aspects of our lives this past year, and our collective media and entertainment choices certainly were no exception.

The global pandemic fueled a massive industry divide where in-home entertainment choices thrived, while many out-of-home entertainment players, quite literally, died. Whereas Netflix living-room streaming reached new heights, many live music venues and movie theaters shuttered. It was an unjust tale of two industry sectors in a year that many would like to forget.

Will 2021 signal “better days” for all and not just the few? Here are 10 predictions in what we hope to be at least the beginnings of a post-pandemic world.

Prediction 1: The Great Reopening

The world significantly opens up as the year progresses due to new vaccines and a masked Biden Administration that takes the pandemic seriously. Consumers venture out of their homes again to share out-of-home entertainment experiences, including movies, theater, theme parks, sports and concerts. But COVID-19 remains top of mind much of the year, which means they take baby steps out of their front doors and continue to over-prioritize couch-laden streaming and gaming. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus especially benefit from these continued trends, as Apple TV Plus, HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock seek to find their mojo. Given the frenetic streaming wars and pent-up demand for fresh premium content, expect Hollywood production to explode as all of these mega-players spend their carry-overed massive content budgets to produce their own differentiated brand of “Must See TV.”

Prediction 2: Big M&A Comes Back

Amid the chaos, pain and utter destruction wreaked by COVID-19’s global lockdown, opportunistic players step in to make acquisitions at distressed valuations. Big-ticket M&A returns. Don’t be surprised if Comcast sheds NBCUniversal to focus on its unsexy, but far more lucrative, broadband business or if AT&T jettisons at least part of the Time Warner media business that it acquired only two years ago. In AT&T’s case, the telco just announced a deal to sell Crunchyroll anime division to Sony’s Funimation for nearly $1.2 billion. Plenty of potential buyers exist for both, especially the new media tech titans. Apple, which has underperformed with Apple TV Plus (an understatement) is a logical buyer, emulating its strategy of buying Beats Music when it couldn’t make Apple Music “work” on its own. Amazon is too — adding live news (maybe CNN) to its other live content, most notably the NFL. And on the music side of the house, expect decimated small clubs and venues to be rolled up. Industry impresario Marc Geiger is on the prowl already.

Prediction 3: Tech Regulation Comes to the Fore

As one hand giveth via M&A, a much larger one (the government) taketh away. Expect 2020’s spark of antitrust activity — most recently in lawsuits the FTC and state attorneys general filed against Facebook, looking to break up the social giant — to generate a conflagration of real action in 2021, a foregone reality accelerated by the new Biden Administration. Virtually all FAANG companies, which are the media powerhouses of our time, feel the bite. The feds prioritize Facebook and Google for scrutiny. Amazon and Apple are next. All simply exert too much control in our individual lives and over society in general. In that regard, expect a bold blue wave of long overdue regulation to inject a dose of civic responsibility and conscience into the social media giants. After all, society cannot live on content-consumption-maximizing, hate-inducing and society-dividing algorithms alone. Corporate responsibility — and plain-old fashioned humanity — find their ways back into the CEO lexicon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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