Africa’s Entertainment Industry, whilst it may only constitute 1% of total global output, is still considerable in its own right. And like many industries around the world it has had to adapt to the unique challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
For some, this has created opportunities. For example, online casinos such as those listed in casinoadviser.co.za have seen a significant increase in traffic and revenues, in part because of the large demand from people confined to their homes during national lockdowns seeking entertainment or a way to relieve the boredom.
Sports betting is also on the rise across the continent, despite the absence of live sporting events earlier in the year. In response Esports leagues have become increasingly popular, with high profile professional athletes competing in online soccer, basketball and Formula One races, for example.
The pandemic, though, has created a supply and demand problem. Never has the demand for new content been higher. However, much of new content creation in traditional media – cinema, television, mainstream sports – has either stopped or seen a dramatic slowdown.
Heath protocols and social distancing provisions have meant that many studios have been closed and with cinemas remaining shuttered in many countries, new film releases have slowed to a trickle.
At the same time, live events have virtually ceased, threatening the livelihoods of thousands of musician, actors, dancers, and other performers, not to mention all of those who work behind the scenes.
In response, artists have had to find new ones of reaching their audience and have had to embrace the online and digital world. That also means they have had to explore ways of monetising tier content, and the use of new platforms like YouTube, Spotify and Zoom.
All of this has had far reaching impact on the industry financially. It is estimated that creatives in Africa lost US $500 million during the first three months of the pandemic, and many are now struggling. Nor is it confined to the individual level. Advertising revenues are down across the board meaning that many online platforms are projecting declines, whilst there may not be the money in future to support lavish productions.
Even when things get back to “normal”, consumers may have to accept their entertainment in a pared-down version compared to prior to the lockdown.
Nor is the transformation of Africa’s Entertainment Industry, which the current crisis has forced likely to be a short-term phenomenon. Those that survive – and, sadly, the numbers working in the entertainment industry across Africa will be less than before the crisis – may have to accept that online may become the new norAfrica’s Entertainment Industry, whilst it may only constitute 1% of total global output, is still considerable in its own right. m.
Even when vaccines have been developed and are commercially available, it may take many months until it is available to all members of society. And there will be those who will be nervous about going to live entertainment events or venues like cinemas and theatres until more is known about possible side-effects.
There is also the convenience factor. People have now grown used to accessing all the content they need at home, and may be reluctant to go back to the old ways where a trip to a gig, the movies or a sports event involves a trip of several miles, and a substantial investment of time and money.
2020 is likely to be a watershed year for the Entertainment industry in Africa.