Innovation in virtual events cannot offset live event losses, cautions Futuresource Consulting

The virtual events market and virtual shows have provided the events industry with something of a lifeline during the pandemic, says market analyst Futuresource Consulting, but don’t expect a rapid bounce back, it cautions. 

“Live events, touring and rental have been hit hard. It is difficult to think of a vertical that has been impacted worse,” says Futuresource analyst Chris Mcintyre-Brown.  “For these businesses, the world ground to a halt. There is hope though, as many are diversified businesses and better placed to get through this by shifting focus towards production and content creation.”

While acknowledging that there will be pent-up demand for live shows, which will help these markets bounce back, Futuresource suggests that all signs indicate that any bounceback will be very slow, and 2021 will be a difficult year as well.

“If there is one thing that has been shining through, it’s the wealth of creativity and innovation which is being unleashed within the industry. The virtual events market and virtual shows have allowed innovation to flourish and have provided something of a lifeline. Virtual performances have been discussed for a long time, but there has been no real reason to go down that route. The current situation has opened up the opportunity, but it will never fill the overwhelming revenue gap created by a lack of live events.”

One sector which has grown dramatically is the home studio market. “There is a burgeoning opportunity for many AV-based businesses and not just limited to catering for musicians,” says Mcintyre-Brown. “Esports activities continue to seize a share of the home studio market, and with the rising tide of podcasting, blogging and vlogging, it is a diverse opportunity with many brands trying to build a presence and vying for business in this space.”

The esports market is now worth in excess of $1 billion annually, and could double by 2023.

“The esports format lends itself well to a world of social distancing, so this is a growth opportunity for many AV companies. Only the final stages of tournaments are concerned with the big physical productions, like the IEM Katowice CSGO Grand Final (pictured above). Prior to the final stages, competitions are undertaken in people’s homes. It is true that crews have needed to adapt to a remote workflow, but the coverage in esports is already virtualised. It is all about screen capture, so offers another advantage, and that space will only continue to grow. Looking back to January this year, at Bett 2020, the amount of focus on esports was incredible. A return to large-scale productions of physical events is still some way off in the future though.”