Digital Entertainment Trends for 2020

Woman with VR
Could VR finally come to your living room this year?

Who doesn’t like a bit of new year forecasting? In her day job, the Broad writes about marketing, tech and digital lifestyle and came across an interesting article on tech trends for 2020 recently. It comes from the US Consumer Technology Sales and Forecasts report, produced by the Consumer Technology Association, the trade association representing the American consumer technology industry.

It’s a revealing snapshot of what’s happening with digital lifestyle habits right now so it seemed like a worthwhile post for the blog.

So here goes on some crystal ball gazing on digital entertainment trends.

1. Subscription streaming video services continue to grow

The growth of subscription video is multifaceted, and not only credited to the rise of the original big three services, Amazon, Hulu and Netflix. With Netflix’s growth plateauing, the forecasters predict new audiences will move to the newer platforms like Disney+.

Look out for more original TV series and movies from the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime as they feel the loss of content that’s gone back to the studios that made it, like Disney.

TV, movies and other video continues to comprise over two-thirds of the total revenue for subscription streaming services (music accounts for just under a third) and are predicted to keep increasing at a strong pace for 2020.

2. Streaming media players are gaining in popularity over traditional set-top boxes

Cable and satellite set-top boxes are in decline, while the sale of streaming media players like the Apple TV and the Chromecast are growing and the reason is two-fold: some people are opting to watch paid video services via streaming devices over set-top boxes while others are taking up streaming services for the first time.

3. People are choosing streaming over disc

The CTA estimates there will be 3.3 streaming media players sold for every DVD/Blu-ray player sold in 2020, a stunning shift in the consumption of streamed, mostly rented content, versus the traditional ownership of a physical copy.

But, although there’s not an appetite to buy new discs, we still have the desire to play our existing content without paying for it again. However, with the demise of disc to digital platforms like UltraViolet, the disc player remains important while there isn’t a cost-efficient way to convert fully to streaming.

And there’s even predictions disc could make a comeback like vinyl as people get nostalgic for a time when they could watch an entire series in their own time without finding it’s disappeared from the streaming platform.

 4. Smart TVs on the rise

When it comes down to it, we find it easier to turn on an internet-connected TV and find a show to stream, than use a streaming player like a Chromecast. We know this because data shows there are more smart TVs sold per year than streaming media players, despite the latter being a much cheaper purchase. One of the effects of this is that free ad-supported streaming platforms services like Pluto TV, Xumo or Tubi may increase their audience, as more people are able to access them with minimal barriers trying them.

5. Netflix’ love of 4K is growing

Once upon a time, Netflix was the only streaming outfit offering shows in the highest resolution, 4K. Of course now, naturally, it’s moved to 5K. But before we get there, 4K will continue to expand as more smart TVs have the ultra high definition capability, putting streaming platforms on notice to produce more content at this high end to make a point of differentiation with other sites.

Streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, plus Apple and video game console manufacturers Sony and Microsoft all offer 4K content. The holdout is traditional pay TV, but if providers like Foxtel are serious about keeping their remaining customers, matching the video output from their online rivals will be essential.

6. Gaming is bigger than you think

Revenues from video game software continue to rise, with 2020 predicted to bring in double that seen in 2015, according to the CTA. And just how popular is gaming? For comparison, the software gaming industry is estimated to be 2.2 times as large as subscription streaming video in 2019 and in-game purchases account for around a third of all gaming revenue.

And this has been a boon for console manufacturers and developers, but, but, but (there’s always a but), these earnings may ultimately be threatened by the arrival of new gaming subscription services with Google and Apple entering the game subscription arena and the growth of 5G mobile networks, cloud-based gaming could soon blow up in a similar fashion to ingame purchases. This could see more new entrants to the cloud gaming world, along with video game manufacturers and developers creating or significantly increasing their own subscriber products.

7. 5G is about to land

Seen the kooky ads trying to de-mystify 5G and make it look cool? Long promised, 5G internet is arriving. This will have an effect on three key areas: in-home internet, smartphones and entertainment, says the Consumer Tech Association.

It will give us all a reason to buy a new smartphone. Yep, watch the e-waste pile up after this one. The pundits say 5G smartphones are predicted to boost the total number of smartphone sales in 2020. It’s also expected to boost sales in home routers and smart devices as people look to adopt Internet of Things (IoT) tech tools in the house. 

5G networks will have an impact upon all aspects of entertainment. As 4K UHD content becomes more common, 5G download speeds means mobile viewers will not have to settle for a downgrade in quality as they watch. 5G will also mean that cloud-based subscription gaming services don’t have to be tethered to the home.

Furthermore, virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR)-based technology will be boosted by the rise of 5G, as download lag times vanish. For handset users, better battery life will be a necessity, and could become a liability for manufacturers known for quick performance declines in new batteries. So predicts the CTA.

8. VR and AR may finally realise their potential

The expansion of 5G, which makes for a better virtual reality (VR) experience due to the reduction in loading times, along with the introduction of all-in-one headsets, which don’t require connections to video game consoles or high-end PCs, will see VR expand.

However, VR headsets may remain a niche product, even with 5G because they’re expensive and cumbersome, being a piece of equipment strapped over the head. 

The real boost may be for augmented reality (AR). Increased internet speeds means post-2020 may see a real boost in AR adoption, such as in retail, to project new clothes onto the user, and beauty along with TV shows and advertisers offering new ways for consumers to interact with a show or brand.

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Rosalyn Page
Journalist, blogger and writer covering arts, culture, travel and digital lifestyle at www.rosalynpage.com and www.somenotesfromabroad.com.

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