Reports Media & Marketing

Reintroducing scarcity How entertainment can find value amid the growing digital clutter

Report by Hanna Kahlert
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20,000 foot view:  Games, sports, music, video, audio, and social content all compete not only for consumers’ attention (and money), but also their fandom. However, the oversaturation of content is devaluing entertainment itself, by overly commodifying it.

Entertainment businesses and content providers will need to rethink how to generate better value for audiences, especially if they want to make true fans of those audiences – especially in an environment of recession (both in the global economy and consumer attention).

As we make the transition to web        with AI-generated content adding yet more ‘content’ to the clutter, entertainment businesses and content providers must focus on value over volume, tapping into the event-driven cultural cornerstones on which fandom is built, and encouraging a deeper engagement with stories and narrative in attempt to combat the ever-growing doom scroll.

Key insights

The audience side:

  • Ever more content is being produced faster by rival platforms to keep consumers from getting bored and switching to another service. Rather than drawing in audiences with high-value, truly exclusive content, they are chasing the hype of the next new thing, on a hamster wheel that is going too fast to slow down now

  • Even with increased amount of time available through flexible working, a majority of work-from-home (WFH) workers are women of parenting age. These workers, in addition to the full-time, unpaid carers, which in the UK alone numbered around        million (according to last UK census), indicate that there is an untapped space here for entertainment as a background activity that can be layered over their normal work and make it more enjoyable

  • The counterbalance to the increasingly saturated attention economy of digital entertainment is a cultural swing back to valuing real-life experiences, tangible objects, and authenticity

  • If digital entertainment is as ubiquitous as water, lived experiences are what they need to stay hydrated for. The two go hand in hand, but the IRL touchpoints are what makes the fan experience worthwhile

The industry side:

  • 2022’s web        focused on the opportunity spaces of the metaverse, VR, and NFTs, however, the true technology disruptor has been the emergence of machine-learning artificial intelligence (AI), which allows users to auto-generate passable content at near instantaneous speeds

  • As the technology develops, expect AI to be able to generate video clips, and even, one day, games. While this will be a huge boon to independent creators, it will also cut out roles across entertainment in larger companies that can outsource everything

  • Alongside this, faster, automated production will mean more content being made faster than ever, which will worsen the current attention saturation situation

  • Clever ways of involving fans in creative challenges, repositioning brands and marketers as individuals with their own perspectives, and trying to generate brand fandom through quality content creation and storytelling are all necessary adaptations

  • The blurring of digital and analogue is opening up new spaces for ‘translator’ applications and devices, but the digital-native desire to engage with the tangible world around them seems to spring from a discomfort with the existential disassociation inherent to digital-first life x
  • Digital entertainment can, of course, fit in alongside these valuable experiences, which are becoming the cultural cornerstones around which the digital propositions are built – but it is increasingly important for entertainment companies to remember that their digital offerings need to be value adds, not detractors

Companies and brands mentioned in this report:  Apple TV+, BTS, BeReal, Bridgerton, ChatGPT, DALL-E, Decentraland, Disney+, Instagram, OpenAI, Meta, Paramount+, Peacock, Spatial, TikTok

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