2020 was an amazing year. And we mean it in the most ironic way possible. 2020 was absolute trash. The start of 2021 has also been super awful. But fortunately, we have about 11 ½ months to turn things around. If 2020 changed the world forever, 2021 is when these changes start becoming increasingly routine. Let’s take a look at what we can expect in 2021.
1. Rise in cloud gaming
There are so many reasons why gaming — and in particular cloud based gaming — will become mainstream in 2021. With Xbox Series X and PS5 leading the way, it is set to be a huge year. Esports viewership is already higher than every major American sport but the NFL! But unless you have several thousands of dollars to spend on high-tech gaming computers, it’s challenging to keep up with the most current, demanding games. This is why cloud-based gaming will make a difference. It will do all of the heavy lifting, and as a result you won’t have to continue to upgrade your hardware.
2. Working remotely is here to stay
Working remotely has been a thing for quite some time, but the pandemic forced virtually every company to adopt the practice, even those that were previously resistant. Advances in live streaming and tech-enabled collaboration have resulted in a collective “aha moment” in which companies realize how efficient and cost-saving it is to allow staff to work from home rather than in expensive office buildings. The genie is out of the bottle and there’s no going back. The biggest loser, of course, will be the commercial real estate industry.
3. More streaming services
When it comes to streaming services, Netflix leads the way with 183 million subscribers followed Amazon Prime with 150 million. In just over a year, Disney Plus has grown to nearly 90 million subscribers. The point is, it’s a huge business. In fact, it’s predicted that by 2025, streaming services will earn $85 billion in revenues. So naturally, lots of media companies want a piece of the pie, especially those seeking niche audiences. For instance, Crunchyroll, a distributor, publisher and producer of anime that is in the process of being sold to Sony for $1.2 billion, has launched Crunchyroll Premium and already has a subscriber base of 3 million anime fans. But not all streaming services are a guaranteed gold mine. Case in point: Quibi only lasted 6 months before folding.
4. Crowds return to stadiums, theaters, restaurants and shopping malls
Now that the Covid vaccine has been introduced, certain aspects of life will start returning to normal. The most obvious sign will be when people are able to fill basketball arenas, football stadiums, and concert halls again. Of course, it will take time for all this to happen; most likely when we enter the third quarter of 2021. Also, people will need to do their part — getting the vaccine or at least providing evidence that they’ve tested negative for the virus — but it won’t come as a shock that many will resist.
5. New bundling models
Once upon a time, subscribing to a streaming service meant you got to watch their catalog of TV shows, movies and…that’s pretty much it. But the different entertainment conglomerates are going to need to provide additional incentives for customers to use their streaming service beyond original series. For instance, imagine Disney Plus bundling discount tickets to Disneyland or even their cruises when you subscribe. Or perhaps Netflix will create an unlimited cinema ticket pass as part of a higher tier package. It might just happen!
6. A surge in social media videos
YouTube with its 2 billion unique monthly views, is still the unrivaled king when it comes to user-generated content, but Facebook (1.25 billion) is right up there as well. However, TikTok is absolutely on fire with over 800 million monthly active users. The Facebook-owned Instagram is also making waves with the introduction of IGTV. Liverpool F.C. stars Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson recently hosted a mini-series exclusively on the IGTV platform.
7. Movie premieres from home become the new normal
Recently, WarnerMedia made a shocking announcement that they were going to release their entire 2021 movie slate on HBO Max. This comes on the heels of Disney releasing Mulan on Disney Plus and several streaming services premiering Trolls World Tour. What became a necessity as a result of the pandemic is likely to be permanent. Huge blockbuster action movies will still play in theaters since it’s impossible to duplicate the experience at home, but the days of indie films in cinemas are probably over.