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Online Trends

Published November 15th 2019

2020: Consumer Trends for the Entertainment Industry

Brandwatch data reveals some of the biggest consumer trends for the entertainment industry as we head into 2020. Discover what can be learned from 8,000 global survey responses and thousands of social posts.

Entertainment is known for its ability to adapt to and reflect quickly changing consumer tastes. Add widespread political and technological change to the mix, and you could say the entertainment industry is one that’s facing more disruption than most.

It’s not just the content itself that needs to meet shifting expectations – entertainment providers must also battle with challenges around the medium of delivery, the cost, and audience access to that content.

The winds of change are blowing harder than ever, and it’s with this stormy context that we look ahead to what 2020 could hold for the entertainment industry.

1. Revivals

In our social media analysis for our Consumer Trends for 2020 report, we found that one of the best ways a network could generate buzz around a TV show would be to cancel it. This has the potential to spark a huge outpouring of love and sadness from devoted fans, who’ll often club together to make their displeasure at such a decision known. If the backlash is big enough, the network can always backtrack on the decision and make sure the much-loved show continues to live on.

Another aspect of the revival is the potential for big titles returning from the dead in 2020. Following on from the popular revival of the Gilmore Girls last year, in 2020 we could see some form of revival of an even bigger show – Friends. Towards the end of 2019, Jennifer Aniston caused a stir online both by posting a selfie to Instagram alongside her old co-stars and by hinting that they were working on something new together in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres.

Between 1 October and 11 November, we found nearly 300k public posts online about Aniston and/or the Friends reboot. Any further information about this is going to cause a huge stir in the year ahead.

2. The weird rise of the documentary

2019 saw a number of powerful documentaries hit streaming services online, not least the two high profile Fyre Festival documentaries early in the year.

When we’re constantly told about dwindling attention spans and the need for short-form content, these lengthy, detailed explorations of serious (and sometimes not so serious) subjects feel like a strange medium to emerge in the current climate.

That said, we found that documentaries formed a large chunk of TV-related conversation in 2019, and 2020 could see even more of an appetite from viewers for long-form deep dives.

3. Quality trumps affordability, generally – but it depends where you look.

Looking at responses to our huge consumer trends survey this year, we were keen to see what people valued from an entertainment brand.

Generally speaking, we found that quality was the most important thing, followed by affordability.

But things get more complex when you break things down by location.

Respondents in the US cared most about ‘Affordability’ compared to those in other countries (and they seemed to care a lot more about affordability than quality when it comes to entertainment).

Meanwhile, those in Mexico and Spain were very much in favor of quality over affordability, with just 5.8% of those in Spain and 4.1% of those in Mexico selecting affordability as the most important attribute an entertainment brand could have.

So attitudes towards how good content should be and how much one should expect to pay for it seem to differ country to country, and any brands looking to launch into new markets should be aware of these differences.

4. Cord cutting and the domination of streaming services

Early in 2019, we analyzed the growing trend that is cord cutting (in this context, that’s ‘The practice of cancelling or forgoing a pay television subscription or landline phone connection in favour of an alternative Internet-based or wireless service.’)

It seems that more and more people in the US, driven by price, are looking for alternatives to traditional entertainment sources.

This chimes nicely with our Social Index, which found streaming services hitting the top spot in Q3 2019. It also chimes with what we saw above about survey respondents in the US valuing affordability over quality when it comes to entertainment.

2020 will likely see more people switching to new ways to enjoy entertainment, and traditional sources without a plan for serving these consumers this ought to get moving.

5. On-screen representation and general industry criticism

The entertainment industry has never been under more scrutiny, whether that’s from the growing #MeToo movement, controversy around casting decisions, or debate around online representations of tough issues.

2020 will hopefully be an exciting year in which we see quality releases and industry moves that reflect the times we’re living in and the high standards audiences are demanding. And, if content or conduct falls short of those standards, the internet will be watching.

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