Technology and the Entertainment Industry

, Magazine

Technology has changed the way we create, consume and even pay for entertainment. This presents a huge opportunity in the media and entertainment industry today, particularly for us in Africa as internet access continues to get cheaper and devices get smarter.


Do you remember when entertainment was an event because it was not fully integrated with our lives? You had to dedicate some time to watching TV, playing video games, or attending a live concert and much more.
Today, Entertainment has become so integrated with our everyday life, that it does not feel like play. Anywhere and anytime, you can find yourself laughing away at some crazy skit on Instagram or a comedy on YouTube. The music you want is available at the tap of a button, or swipe of your fingers. Gone are the days when you have to wait to get your hands on an EP or CD dropped by your favourite music artist, nowadays once the song is out, YouTube has it captured somehow and the lyrics are in your face, so you never have to ‘Chop Mouth’ (mouth moving motion when you don’t know the lyrics to a song) as we say in my country, while singing.
Technology has changed the way we create, consume and even pay for entertainment. This presents a huge opportunity in the media and entertainment industry today, particularly for us in Africa as internet access continues to get cheaper and devices get smarter.
Technology has affected the entertainment industry in so many ways and here are some of them.


Live Streaming & Music 
There was a time when watching a movie, required renting/ buying a C.D, DVD or waiting till it shows on Television. Yes, that was our reality. With the advent of live streaming sites like Netflix, IrokoTv, SceneOneTv, HBO Now, Amazon Prime Video, and even YouTube, all kinds of videos can be streamed on any device, anywhere in the world. Talk about convenience! This has completely disrupted the Cable TV industry and has dealt a massive blow to the Cable TV companies. According to a Forbes article, ‘Last year, half of Americans aged 22 to 45 watched zero hours of cable TV. And almost 35 million households have quit cable in the past decade. All these people are moving to streaming services like Netflix (NFLX). Today, more than half of American households subscribe to a streaming service.’
This also means that creative people in the media and entertainment industry no longer need to wait to share their art with the world. You can produce music today, and get paid tomorrow by releasing it on Spotify, Apple music or Soundcloud, for your audience to find, buy and listen. They can download your music, create a playlist and even share with their friends. No CD player needed!


The movie Lionheart premiered in 2018, many fans of the director, Genevieve Nnaji were excited to see it and had probably planned cinema trips but in September 2018, the popular streaming site Netflix acquired Lionheart, making it the first Netflix Original film produced in Nigeria. Fans of the rich cast of Lionheart can see the movie on Netflix, anywhere in the world. How exciting that a movie that shows the rich cultural heritage of Nigeria, written, directed and produced by Nigerians is now available worldwide without having to deal with multiple middlemen in several places.


Technology allows us to export talent, values, and even culture at an infinite scale, beyond physical boundaries. A 5-minute piece can be played by thousands of people in multiple places at the same time, if they so wish.
The emergence of live streaming has not only changed the way viewers consume television, but also the way it is made. In 2013, Netflix produced its own first show — House of Cards — and released all episodes of the first season on the day of the launch. Freedom from the traditional TV schedule of releasing one episode per week means that the writers can vary the length of each episode to suit the plot.However, just a few days ago, in a classic case of the disruptor being disrupted, we heard about Disney and Netflix. Disney is arguable one of the greatest content providers in the Entertainment industry and owns two of the biggest kids studios ever, Marvel and Pixar. Disney is pulling all its content off Netflix because they are starting their own Streaming service called Disney+. The Walt Disney Company which is also home to Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm and ESPN will be priced at $6.99/month.
Streaming services have significantly disrupted the Media Industry and there is clearly more to come.


Subscription on-demand 
The advent of live streaming platforms have promoted a new business model called Subscription On-Demand. People can pay for the content they consume when they want to consume it and have access to all the content they want for as long as they are willing to pay for. This model is becoming increasingly popular among audiences due to its ability to meet consumers’ content needs. It is also cheaper for the average person than TV.
In response to this, traditional media companies are adding premium distribution platforms to existing services and distribution partners. Globally, traditional entertainment experiences such as movie theatres, cultural events, and concerts have begun to adopt Subscription on-Demand as their business model. IrokoTv has their ROK TV channels on traditional TV, as well as the Iroko subscription model.  With DSTV Now, you are no longer tied to your TV. If you have a DSTV subscription, you can also follow your favorite shows and News channels on your phone or tablet


Crowdfunding
Creators love to create, entertainers love to entertain, but what happens when creativity and passion do not match the available resources to produce excellent work? Crowdfunding to the rescue!
With platforms like kickstarter, gofundme, indiegogo, it is easier to crowdfund, and get the consumers to fund your idea. You don’t have to make a film all by yourself if you don’t have the resources to, you can simply ask the public to support you by donating, sponsoring or pre-ordering your work. The challenge here is that creators have to show that they are credible and build an engaging audience of people who already love your work and will be happy to support you.


Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality (VR) creates an artificial environment that is displayed in such a way that the user accepts and interacts with it as a real environment. Technologies such as Facebook 360 and YouTube 360 allow millions of consumers daily to experience and interact with content from afar through natural, immersive human experiences where the content literally “comes to life”, elevating storytelling to the next level and making entertainment more captivating and allowing consumers to discover and understand adventures previously out of reach.
That’s a great tool for education right there. Imagine using VR to teach children about subjects that seem abstract. It gives the immersive experience and makes it easier to learn and understand theoretical concepts. Imagine learning biology or geography with VR! On the topic of disruption, VR will certainly revolutionize teaching, healthcare and so much more.
The Risk for Consumers and the Challenge for Creators

As exciting as this revolution is, there is a potential downside for individuals and the society at large. It promotes a culture of binge-watching which can subtly erode the culture of delayed gratification as you no longer have to wait to see your favorite show or TV star. Wheeler (2015) describes binge behaviour as an addiction, and states that overindulgence of Netflix can result in issues such as sleep deprivation, isolation, lethargy and loneliness, which can in turn lead to depression and obesity.


As much as technology is shaping entertainment and giving creators more room to express themselves and be as creative as they want to be, it also poses a new challenge to businesses in this industry. Consumers now expect media and entertainment providers to deliver variety, convenience and value, all wrapped inside personalized, experiences that are available on demand and across several platforms — and with minimal advertising and strong data protection.


What can you do then? Evolve! Netflix, started out as a DVD postal delivery service in 1997. Today, it is a full-fledged media services provider, producing and curating TV series, documentaries and feature films for over 148 million paid memberships in over 190 countries. Your business can and should evolve with the times.


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