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New study shows physical events more important than ever

A report by UTA IQ finds that 96% of American consumers are planning their return to live shows, but that virtual events will remain popular

By IQ on 25 Jun 2021

UTA IQ head Joe Kessler

UTA IQ head Joe Kessler

image © UTA

UTA IQ, United Talent Agency’s research, data and analytics division, has released the findings of a study of consumer sentiment about live and virtual events as the end of Covid-19 restrictions approach.

For Virtual + Reality: The Future of Digital & Live Entertainment in a Post-Pandemic World, UTA surveyed consumers in the US about their post-pandemic plans, finding that online events will augment and supplement, rather than replace, in-person experiences as live events return.

Joe Kessler, global head of UTA IQ, says: “As real life re-emerges, consumers are roundly rejecting a binary choice between virtual and live entertainment. Much like hybrid work, consumers are demanding a best-of-both-worlds approach to their entertainment choices. Consumers are enthusiastic about returning to live experiences, but they also are unwilling to give up the enhanced virtual experiences that helped get them through the pandemic.”

“Those who see a zero-sum game are missing the ample opportunities ahead”

Among the key findings of the report are that:

  • Nearly all consumers (96%) already plan to return to live events once it’s safe
  • One in three people say live events are more important to them post-pandemic
  • The same percentage are more inclined to go to “as many live events as possible
  • Three quarters of people attended a virtual event during the pandemic, or 90% of Gen Zers
  • 88% of people who attended a virtual event will continue to do so when live events return

Consumers’ top reasons to attend virtual events, even when it’s safe to return to ‘real’ shows, are to avoid crowds; experience the event “comfortably”; go to an event that wouldn’t visit their region; spent less money; and explore an event they’re only casually interested in, in that order.

Commenting on the high percentage of Americans who say they’ll continue to attend events virtually, Kessler adds: “Those who see a zero-sum game are missing the ample opportunities ahead if you listen to consumers and their increasingly discerning expectations for both virtual and IRL entertainment.”

The new study follows an earlier report, Forever Changed: Covid-19’s Lasting Impact on the Entertainment Industry, released last April.


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