It’s no exaggeration to say that the internet has changed everything. From booking holidays to watching sport, communicating with family to multi-million pound business deals, purchasing music to gaming, nothing is quite the same as those pre-internet days. Entertainment has been as touched if not more touched than other industries; consumption of music, film and TV is no longer governed by the schedules but by the consumer who expects ‘on demand’. Entertainment is a very broad term and we will focus only focus on three key areas here: music, gaming and sport. So how has the internet changed these verticals?
Music was perhaps the first entertainment industry to be affected by the internet for the simple reason that we were dealing with relatively small files. Whereas a dial-up connection wouldn’t have the strength to show you the entirety of an Olympic 100m race, 4 minutes of music was a drop in the ocean. Napster were the best known P2P file sharing internet service which enjoyed huge popularity in the years around the turn of the century and allowed people to share digital audio files for free. This resulted in a huge drop in revenue for the industry from 1999 onwards, a trend which wasn’t reversed until 2013. Although sharing music through Napster soon became illegal, the industry was changed forever with artists suddenly seeing their largest chunk of revenue decimated. This lead to bands and solo artists concentrating more on merchandise sales, touring and other revenue streams. Since 2013 there has been a revival in money to be made from selling music, notably through digital revenues from iTunes, Spotify and YouTube. However this is 70% down on the industry peak of $27.8 billion in 1999. It has been a tough journey but undisputedly, the internet certainly changed the music industry!
Gaming has always changed from decade to decade; just look at the iconic scenes from the Back to the Future trilogy where we saw arcade games being played in 1985 and 2015 in the 1st and 2nd editions of the film. In 2015 the kids react to having to use their hands to play the game “You mean you have to use your hands? That’s like a baby’s toy!” But the internet has taken the changes in gaming to a whole new level. Perhaps the biggest transformation has been how interactive gaming now is: gone are the days when all of your friends had to be present in the same room, you can now play against your mates without any of you having to leave your individual homes. Furthermore, going on holiday to another part of the world doesn’t necessarily preclude you from joining in, it just means you can win from the sun-lounger as opposed to the sofa.
Gaming has also benefited from the advent of social media – players can announce to their network that they are playing the new release on Facebook, thus doing the job of the marketeers. Twitter has also proved to be a valuable tool enabling gamers to interact with the developers in real time and get back to enjoying their gaming experience at the speed of a tweet. Take a look @casumo for some great examples of customer interactions.
Although the sports themselves haven’t been changed by the internet, the experience of fans which was once restricted to the stadium or to the radio has been transformed. At a basic level, the cricket fan no longer needs to get up on a cold December morning to watch the Ashes – he or she can stream it live on their iPad without getting out of their warm, comfy bed. Furthermore, the English Football League fan can now watch their favourite team from the other side of the world – not on the local TV channel but through his or her internet connection, and best of all, it’s all above board and legal! Fans are also brought closer to the players through their individual social media accounts and that of their clubs who publish content including interviews and highlights daily. Supporters have never had so much content to choose from and comment on.
The internet has been a game changer. It has changed lives, ended careers and disrupted many business models. But the entertainment business has rolled with the punches and come out the other side. The show has gone on, and in most cases, for the better!