After not being able to attend live music and cultural events in-person for so long, many consumers are eager to return to the live event scene. However, the pandemic has thrown livestreaming alternatives into the spotlight and some consumers are keen to continue to pay for livestreamed performances even once in-person attendance is possible again. 60% of those who are interested in paying to livestream a music concert or festival would be willing to pay more than £10, and 15% would even pay more than £30.

Production companies, venues and theatres are among those worst affected by COVID-19 and have seen a significant decline in revenue due to closures throughout the pandemic. However, the crisis has also spurred on innovation within the livestreaming field, something which will put the industry in a stronger position to appeal to a wider audience in future.

Even though the vaccination programme is looking promising and the industry is on route to recovery, many venues and event organisers face the risk of liquidation should the government impose further lockdowns or continue to enforce social distancing in the future.

Moving forward, operators can revolutionise the consumption of cultural events. They can respond to the growing consumer interest in new, stimulating and immersive experiences, offering livestreamed events in virtual reality direct to people’s homes, or at outdoor pop-ups for those craving outdoor leisure.

Key issues covered in this Report

  • Participation in attending music and cultural events prior to COVID-19, and the future outlook.

  • Participation and future interest in livestreaming music and cultural events.

  • Amount consumers would be willing to pay to livestream music and cultural events at home.

  • Consumers’ motivations for attending events in-person and via livestream.

  • How consumers feel about the idea of attending events that require a vaccine passport or negative COVID-19 test.

COVID-19: Market context

The first COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the UK at the end of January 2020, with a small number of cases in February. Rapidly rising case numbers led to the first national lockdown, starting on 23 March, which left the cultural events industry to face major financial decline. It wasn't until 15 June that non-essential stores were allowed to reopen, followed by pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers on 4 July and many beauty businesses on 13 July.

Theatres and concert venues were given the opportunity to open from 15 August 2020 for socially distanced performances, though only a limited number of events went ahead as logistical issues and capacity restrictions meant that many would have been unprofitable.

By September, it had become clear that the UK was at the start of a second wave, and social distancing measures were intensified. Continued increases in infection numbers led to Wales implementing a two-week national lockdown from 19 October, England announcing a month-long lockdown from 5 November and Scotland introducing a new five-level system of coronavirus restrictions. Theatres and concert venues were once again forced to close as a result of these new measures.

Despite these restrictions, however, case numbers continued to increase. All four UK nations tightened restrictions further in January 2021, effectively leading to a full UK-wide lockdown.

On 22 February, Boris Johnson announced the roadmap to an easing of restrictions in England, starting with the reopening of schools on 8 March, followed by easing of restrictions on outdoor gatherings on 29 March. The Welsh and Scottish governments also gave more details on their plans to ease restrictions, with both nations taking a slightly more cautious approach to the one planned for England. The government announced that theatres can reopen with capacity restrictions from 17 May as England moved into step three of the government’s roadmap. Restrictions were planned to end by 21 June but a week before this date the government postponed the move to step four until 19 July (though the extension will be reviewed and brought forward to 5 July if action can be taken sooner). It is expected that outdoor festivals and larger indoor performances will be able to resume from this date.

Even before the full reopening of the economy, retail sales and Mintel’s own household finances tracker provided encouraging signs of a rapid return to consumer confidence, and a willingness to spend at least some of the savings that many households were able to build up over the lockdown periods.

The UK’s vaccination programme started on 8 December 2020. As of 15 June nearly 80% of the UK population had received their first dose of the vaccine and more than 57% had received their second dose.

Economic and other assumptions

Mintel’s economic assumptions are based on the Office for Budget Responsibility’s central scenario included in its March 2021 Economic and Fiscal Outlook report, but also take into account predictions made by other economic forecasts, including the Bank of England.

After the fall of 9.9% over the course of 2020, the OBR’s scenario suggests that UK GDP will grow by 4% in 2021 and 7.3% in 2022. GDP isn’t expected to return to pre-COVID-19 levels until Q2 2022, although this is six months earlier than the OBR forecast in November 2020, mainly because of the faster-than-expected rollout of vaccines.

Unemployment is expected to peak at 6.5% in Q4 2021. As with GDP, this is more positive than the OBR’s November forecast, but the OBR does raise the prospect of long-term scarring on employment, especially in the more exposed retail and hospitality sectors.

The rapid vaccine rollout and the continued efficacy of the vaccine, however, mean that more recent economic forecasts have been significantly more optimistic than the OBR’s March forecast, even given the rise of the Delta variant. We have factored this rise in optimism into our market analysis.

Covered in this Report

This is a consumer research-focused Report looking at UK consumers’ participation, interest in and attitudes towards live music and cultural events. This includes music concerts and festivals, performing arts events (such as theatre, opera and ballet) and comedy events (such as stand-up).

The Report looks at attendance of these events both in-person and watching via livestream. When referring to livestreaming events, we mean events watched over the internet as they happen. This could be via any device, but excludes events broadcast on live TV (eg BBC One).

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