The pandemic certainly saw an increase in streaming media services, such as Netflix and Disney+. People are far more inclined to consume shows as and when they like, rather than using the traditional TV model. 

The problem for service providers now is that the market has become saturated, and it’s increasingly difficult to attract new customers. While that’s good news for the consumer, streaming service providers are battling to provide popular, star-studded shows in the face of such stiff competition. 

But the competition is not only from other streaming service providers and TV stations – don’t forget real-world entertainment – cinema, theatre, and live music, for example. 

While the home-based viewing model seems to have changed forever, where do real-world live entertainments sit in this new paradigm? 

I see several trends here. 

For some, nothing beats live: Live entertainment offers a different, more immersive experience. There are those who simply love seeing live drama unfold before their eyes. Expo2020 has underlined this fantastic feeling, with a daily array of performances and renowned acts. A live performance is a shared experience, where we can make connections through shared enjoyment, and this is something that watching shows at home can simply never provide on such a large scale. There’s also the thrill of seeing your heroes up close, and in the flesh.  

DUBAI, 10 December 2021. Infinite Nights: Alicia Keys at Al Wasl, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Christopher Pike/Expo 2020 Dubai)

Pricing: While competition heats up in the streaming sector, with reduced prices, offers and advertising, live events are often associated with special occasions or the chance to see a favourite act or show – and we are still willing to pay a different (higher) price for an experience. Live performances need to be charged at a certain amount to cover all the staff and venue costs. While the price of a single theatre ticket is often considerably more than the annual fee charged by a streaming service, the points raised above mean we are comfortable with paying more for a live event. 

Post-pandemic pleasure: People missed out on live entertainment for so long, a lot of us are very keen to go out to be entertained, and to be among people again, and to pay for memorable experiences. For example, gourmet food is available in cinemas with gastro menus from celebrity chefs such as Guy Fieri or Michelin-starred chef Akira Back now on offer. We are all acutely aware of the need to support the leisure, events and entertainment sector post-pandemic – it really seems to be a case of ‘use it or lose it’.

Technological treats: Even the humble cinema now offers a host of different, ‘extra’ experiences – such as 4D showings – where the seat moves, and you experience wind, rain and smoke. There’s also an increasing move towards immersive theatre, virtual reality experiences and other creative theatre concepts, such as revolving stages and seating. While innovation is at the heart of the region’s entertainment offerings, it will always be popular.

Streaming entertainment – and more recently, gaming – is a fantastic way for everyone to enjoy quality programming at home or on the move. But it seems to me that the entertainment sector, mindful of consumer expectations and demands, is pulling out all the stops to remain exciting, interesting and relevant, embracing creativity, innovation and clever use of technology. 

There is room for both streaming services and live entertainment in all our lives. Which do you prefer? Ali Sajwani