There is an ever-increasing push in entertainment, media, and sports, and daily life, towards digital and experiential. The drive to move away from in-person activities is about several things and those several things existed prior to pandemics and deltas. Namely, the cost of doing business is less expensive over time when digitized and easier to reach more people. In this day-in-age, there is also a push by some that a move to digital is safer. The counterargument is people by their very nature require connection and digital cannot fulfill the humanitarian need.
Social media giant Facebook has wanted to build a metaverse to create the digital environment for experiential activities. However, in many ways, the metaverse already exists through the many platforms that are used to consume content today. It likely means that as technology increases in function and distribution, so will the metaverse.
A good example of what a digital metaverse might look like is demonstrated in the Steve Spielberg film, Ready Player One (2018). Of course, social media, streaming, and content-based companies that rely on viewing for profits need more eyeballs to watch their proverbial channels to sustain success and grow. In other words, it is in their interest to want to grow the metaverse.
The conflict in the drive to grow digital consumption is highlighted by WarnerMedia’s (now Warner Bros. Discovery) decision to go direct-to-consumer for its 2021 slate of feature films on their HBO Max streaming platform. Warner’s decision caused strife between talent, their representatives, unions, studios, and streamers. Disney is now facing litigation from one of its top stars in the Marvel Cinematic Universe over the same dilemma—mainly how to get paid when theater-going is less prominent and the experience is mostly digital through streaming platforms.
If there was ever an exclamation point on experiential, it would be space tourism, and Netflix plans to stream the experience. In another example, Reebok is using augmented reality (AR) to form basketball courts with surrounding materials so every child has an opportunity to play a sport. There is also a continued and complimentary drive towards non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and crypto currency that enlarge the digital experience. However, as more things change, more things stay same. HBO is now creating an ads-based streaming option—streaming is in many ways becoming the cable of old, which makes sense because as people spend less time watching live television through the traditional cable model revenue needs to made up in other areas.
However, until production is made digital, outdoor experiences become impossible or even-less desirable, or the human genome changes, there will be a battle between companies that want to create digital experiences and people who want options to experience both. Nevertheless, the increasing push towards digital activations through technology does create a reliance on those experiences at the expense of in-person activity. Convenience is a part of American life and if it is easier, less expensive, and fun to consume an entertainment, media, sports, or life event digitally versus in-person, more people will continue to gravitate towards the digital option.
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