Are virtual reality and livestreaming the future of events?

July 15, 2021
5 min read

‘Freedom day’ on July 19th is when many of the old freedoms to attend events in England are expected to return. Despite this new found liberty, how will live events venues need to adjust and tap into newly formed consumer habits? 

The pandemic has accelerated consumers’ demand for livestreaming, virtual reality (VR) and digital experiences. As of April 2021, two thirds of those interested in paying to livestream a music event said they are willing to pay more than £10 for it. Operators have the opportunity here to cater to consumers’ growing appetite for digital consumption and navigate the ‘third space’.

In this collaborative blog, our leisure and technology experts discuss the most innovative examples of live event venues using VR to recreate this experience. 

Mintel Leisure Analyst, Narmada Sarvanantha:

Consumers experience a ‘sense of the intense’

Current Rising is the world’s first hyperreality opera experience. The Royal Opera House takes opera enthusiasts on a multisensory VR journey, based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Four people will be taken in at a time to experience a magical universe, exploring relevant themes of our current reality including isolation and connection. This sensory experience redefines opera in a new age of VR and provides the art form with deeper meaning, as outlined by Mintel Trend Sense of the intense. 

Current, Rising at The Royal Opera House

Source: Joanna Scotcher and Figment Productions

Venues enter the third space

The Now Building will have a 2,000-person capacity, offering commercial space with 360 degree 8K wrap-around screens and 4D interactive potential to host live events, and rooms designed for music sessions. The four-storey building also has 250,000 sq feet of retail and leisure space for restaurants and bars so consumers can indulge in an all-rounded immersive experience. Venues have the opportunity to make use of extra commercial space and build hybrid models by merging the digital and physical experience, a blended approach that will incentivise consumers back to physical locations. 

Source: Getty Images

Caught on multiple cameras

The Young Vic Theatre sustains interest in livestreamed events through The Best Seat in Your House project. This gives viewers the opportunity to see productions through multiple cameras, making the dynamic of livestreaming more engaging for those tuning into theatre from their homes. While it started out as an alternative to in-person events, livestreaming is evolving into a platform that offers personal, in-depth and accessible experiences. 

 ‘Best Seat in Your House’ performances will be available to livestream with broadcast tickets

Source: Young Vic

Mintel Consumer Technology Analyst, Zach Emmanuel:

AmazeVR sets the bar high for third spaces

AmazeVR added virtual concerts to its platform in July 2020 granting at-home access and intends to launch a pop-up in Los Angeles later this year. The pop-up will feature a tour bus with haptic seats to provide an even more immersive experience of the concert to fans. AmazeVR sets the bar high for the future of concert streaming, with the potential to further enhance experiences in third spaces and hyperreality settings. 

Ownership of VR headsets has stalled in recent years and there continues to be difficulty in converting interest into purchases. In September 2020, over 10% of consumers who do not have headsets had tried it and are interested in buying one. Therefore, it is better to hone in on that interest by offering VR experiences at in-person venues so consumers can use the technology without needing to own a headset. Furthermore, experiencing high quality VR this way could encourage them to buy a headset for themselves, especially if they had not used the technology before.

The ‘Amaze Tour bus’

Source: AmazeVR

Cultural events industry responds to change in consumer behaviour

As restrictions are lifted, consumers will no doubt be keen to attend venues, but the pandemic has allowed them to appreciate the convenience and flexibility of livestreaming in the long-term. Mintel research reveals that a third of consumers have livestreamed an event since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Mintel research also reveals that nearly a third say they would be more interested in livestreaming an event in virtual reality. Moving forward, consumers will be expecting to indulge in immersive, interactive and stimulating experiences so operators will need to identify how they can use and maximise commercial space to adhere to this demand.

What we think

The pandemic has significantly altered the way consumers have accessed entertainment/cultural events and will continue to do so in coming years. 2020 has given the digital world a boost and consumers a taste for its growing potential. As venues continue to collaborate and merge with new markets to make the livestreaming platform a more stimulating experience at home and in third spaces, the cultural events industry will prosper. 

Brands can seize the opportunity to capitalise on the advancement and popularity of virtual reality that is paving the way for a new, collaborative, unique and connected model of digital entertainment. 

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