Entertainment as we understand it today, through the prisms of the internet and social media, is not quite the entertainment that previous generations would have recognized. After all, existing media like television, music, radio, and film have been revolutionized by an exponential boom of new technologies. Content creation has transformed thanks to the spread of distribution platforms that can spread its media, like social media and other forums. But within the last few years, certain areas of the content-creation market have set off exceptional ripples even for the larger digital revolution. For manufacturers of audio or video equipment, the question isn’t what they should expect these markets to do—it is how they should expect these markets to grow, and because of whom.
In particular, these manufacturers should expect exceptional growth tied to two content sectors: podcasting and game-streaming. Each sector existed with mounting profitability in the last decade, as the profiles of their users—game streamers and podcasters—grew in fame and profitability. Ongoing research of content-creation suggests that the creators in these areas also overlap with music and video production, but these specific areas warrant greater insight going forward. Music production has traditionally driven audio-equipment purchases, but game-streamers and podcasters have more recently realized the need for crisp, high-quality audio and the purchases that enable it. Futuresource has found that overall content consumption has increased, matched by notable growth in content creation by amateur creators rather than professionals. Its research also points to a growing shift from professional studios to home studio, while also finding that more AV-technology buyers attributed their purchases to increased interest in making their own content. But when COVID-19 brought seismic changes to online content and its consumption, both areas achieved even greater growth.
By itself, game-streaming and recording is one of the fastest-growing markets for content-creation devices. In the background of this market segment, the larger video game market has long been swelling, but this trend alone doesn’t explain why streaming has become so viable. It is instead the rise of digital sports (“e-sports”), professional video-gaming, the recent re-framing of video games as viewing experiences, and their match to social media platforms that can account for these sectors’ explosion. By turns, each of these relatively-recent factors have addressed and then inspired the fertile audience of video game consumers. When these consumers view the online gamers or streamer-influencers that earn prestige and profits from their online play, some of them have then been inspired to buy improved gaming equipment and improve their own gaming. that demonstrates significant growth in advertising profits for online content (YouTube ad revenues grew 30% in 2020 despite new competitors), and the inspiration for amateur online gamers becomes even stronger. But the unforeseen content-consumption behaviours during COVID-19 accelerated the area’s viability by increasing the size and activity of its audience. For example, Twitch (a popular game-streaming platform) reported 100% growth of its number of active streaming accounts. The future of streamed online gaming looks as bright as its recent history, and so it's likely that other AV brands will follow suit and cater specifically to this market (though their gaming-centric products already exist in the audio-tech market).
Similarly, podcasting has proved to be another boom to the content-creation market. Futuresource reported earlier this year that 41% of respondents across Europe and North America listened to podcasts in H2 of 2020, compared to just 33% in H1 of 2020. On Spotify, for instance, listeners grew 57% year-over-year between 2020 and 2021. Launching and maintaining a podcast presents few barriers to entry, while the podcast itself is versatile as a creative hobby or promotional business tool. Many savvy content-creators have spotted and already taken advantage of podcasts' opportunity, as have larger corporate buyers hoping to navigate their products and messaging into online audiences through podcasting. Those lower barriers to entry don’t present initial promise for advanced audio hardware, but the continued growth of the podcast industry does: podcasters finding success over time will need to invest in better technical equipment, more devices, keener post-production systems, and even video capabilities. This potential for market growth remains as long as podcasts continue to multiply and gain greater popularity.
In short, the prospects of game-streaming and podcasting demand special research attention among the other areas of the content and entertainment market. Futuresource’s new “
The joint approach will also improve how hardware and software companies in the audio-visual industry can better understand the professional-to-amateur shift in content creation. Remember, amateur buyers present as much of a selling opportunity as corporate and professional buyers, since online content-creation has grown more lucrative over the past few years and then entrenched during COVID-19.
Keep an eye out for the report when it is published at the beginning of August , and in the meantime, read through our other insights into content-creation trends and entertainment industries.
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