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Consumers are eager to get back to sporting events, concerts and other live experiences but won’t abandon virtual gatherings completely, according to a new study published by UTA IQ, the research, data and analytics division of Hollywood talent agent UTA.
The study, “Virtual + Reality: The Future of Digital & Live Entertainment in a Post-Pandemic World,” found that an overwhelming majority of respondents plan to return to some form of live entertainment once it’s safe at 96 percent. Specifically, three of four consumers say they are most excited for sporting events, concerts and movie theaters.
One in three report that live events will be more important to them post-pandemic and the same number are more inclined to attend “as many live events as possible.” In order to attend more events, one in four plan to cut back spending in other areas to purchase tickets for live events.
That said, virtual events won’t be completely abandoned. Three in four people said they attended a virtual event during the pandemic, including 90 percent of Gen Z respondents. Of those who logged on, 88 percent said they will continue to tune into virtual events even after live events are fully up and running, citing the comfort, affordability and absence of crowds for making the virtual experience such a win.
The study — a survey that polled a nationally representative sample of 1,000 U.S. adults aged 18-54 — follows a first installment on COVID-19’s lasting impact of entertainment from UTA IQ. It also surveyed how consumers engaged with talent and social media.
Consumers responded that they are gravitating toward celebrity/influencer content that “motivates me,” “improves my mood” and “gives me new ideas.” Among the apps, TikTok emerged as the most downloaded app of the pandemic per the survey, with its influence showing that one out of three consumers craved a more participatory role.
“As ‘real-life’ reemerges, consumers are roundly rejecting a binary choice between virtual and live entertainment,” said Joe Kessler, global head of UTA IQ. “Much like hybrid work, consumers are demanding a ‘best of both worlds’ approach to their entertainment choices. Consumers are enthusiastic about returning to live experiences, but they also are unwilling to give up the enhanced virtual experiences that helped get them through the pandemic. Those who see a zero-sum game are missing the ample opportunities ahead if you listen to consumers and their increasingly discerning expectations for both virtual and IRL entertainment.”
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