Live content and events thriving amid digital disruption

Britain's live entertainment sector registered a record $31 billion in revenue last year, thanks in part to Star Wars: The Last Jedi, starring Daisy Ridley (left).
Britain's live entertainment sector registered a record $31 billion in revenue last year, thanks in part to Star Wars: The Last Jedi, starring Daisy Ridley (above).PHOTO: LUCASFILM

LONDON • Any fears that certain factors, including the explosion in popularity of streaming services such as Netflix and the bombing at Ariana Grande's concert, might create a stay-at-home couch culture in Britain has been put to rest.

Last year, the country's live entertainment sector registered a record £17 billion (S$31 billion) in revenue, boosted by the West End debut of hit Broadway musical Hamilton, mega gigs - Metallica broke attendance records, for example, at the O2 arena in London - and the return of Star Wars.

Growth will continue this year as the live economy - which ranges from cinema visits to attending music and arts festivals - is forecast to surge another £400 million.

The arrival of Hamilton - alongside the continued popularity of stalwarts such as Les Miserables, the longest-running musical - is keeping theatre land booming.

In addition, experiential events, from the continuing proliferation of festivals to Secret Cinema's annual themed spectaculars, have maintained their popularity momentum.

Last year, Secret Cinema's Moulin Rouge drew 80,000 attendees, while 100,000 fans flocked to the Star Wars experience in 2016.

"Some commentators may have prematurely sounded the death knell for live attendances," said Mr Dan Ison, head of media and entertainment at professional services firm Deloitte. "Live content and events are thriving in a digital world."

Mr Max Alexander, chief executive of Secret Cinema, said: "Netflix is everyone's favourite sofa buddy, but increasingly, people seek the thrill of live entertainment - communal, participative events with long-lasting memories."

Mr Ison noted that "watching sports live remains a significant market, despite the widespread availability of televised sport and the proliferation of results available online".

There are more carrots to get the crowds to turn up. Over the weekend, a stunt show based on the Fast & Furious movies was revved up in London. Fast & Furious Live, held in the O2 arena, made a loud roar with elaborate stunts for which the films are known, further driving up the buzz factor in Britain's live entertainment scene.

GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2018, with the headline 'Live content and events thriving amid digital disruption'. Print Edition | Subscribe