While many industries that focus on live, in-person entertainment took a hit in 2020 and 2021, last year saw much of it come roaring back to form. That said, many of the habits picked up by global audiences through those years have become strongly embedded, helping to grow more personal and home-based entertainment sectors. Now, a lot of the mediums that rely on attendance are finding themselves trying to co-exist with online offerings like streaming.
Even with digital forms of entertainment being the most convenient forms of fun, there is still a place for live or venue-based creations. In 2023, several sectors look to continue to grow beyond 2019 numbers. This will be propelled by technological innovations as well as major brands further asserting themselves as market leaders through popular productions.
A technology created to help assist disabled people, audiobooks have boomed as a way for people to experience novels and documentaries more conveniently. Now, you even have a wide selection of celebrity-voiced audiobooks, with one of the more recent hits being The Lord of the Rings trilogy from J.R.R. Tolkien being read by Andy Serkis, who played Gollum in the Peter Jackson trilogy.
In a similar way, podcasts have boomed of late, with some 100 million users in the US predicted for 2024. Audio experiences beyond music continue to grow, and the global audiobooks market now stands to grow at around 26 per cent in CAGR (compound annual growth rate) to surpass $19.5 billion over the next five years.
In 2021, interactive audiobooks also started to pick up steam. Also known as “active audiobooks,” they engage the listener directly, often helping them through a particular set of tasks. Coming out of Apple right now, AI-driven audiobooks might be the next big leap, with their Digital Narration Technology generating narration that sounds human.
This entertainment sector only recently gained access to one of the biggest consumer bases on the planet, the US. When the iGaming industry was eventually allowed to start setting up shop in select states in 2018, it wasn’t long before the market valuations started to soar. Looking ahead to 2030, showing a 12 per cent CAGR, iGaming is set to be worth $145.6 billion.
One driver of this progress is the opening of business in more US states, but another has clearly been game innovation. You only have to look as far as the blackjack section of online casino Betway. This very simple and standardised table game now offers multiple side bets, live versions like Ultimate Blackjack with Olivia, and even celebrity-hosted games.
As other entertainment technologies become more mainstream – particularly virtual and augmented reality and cryptocurrency – more avenues will open for iGaming to expand with new experiences.
It has been foretold for several years, but the slow-growing technology of virtual reality looks to finally be on the cusp of its breakthrough year in 2023. From absolute premium kits like Valve’s Index to the much more low-tech headsets like Google Cardboard VR, the market is becoming vast and accessible, with more and more experiences and games that can entice customers.
Importantly, however, the spotlight has firmly been fixed on VR by Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta and one of the richest Americans in the world, when he announced the company’s plans to dominate the metaverse. To enter this futuristic digital landscape, you’ll need a VR headset. So, Meta has been pushing its Meta Quest (formerly Oculus Quest) range to spur people into trying out their new world.
Meta has reportedly poured hundreds of millions of dollars into their metaverse project over the last few years and will continue to try to make VR more accessible to spur metaverse activities. It is because of this and the widening product range in the VR market that it is expected to grow from its 2021 value of $6.9 billion to a massive $51.5 billion by the start of the next decade.
Virtual reality, iGaming, and audiobooks are growing rapidly through 2023, standing out as the fringe entertainment sectors to watch in the years to come.