What TV Can Learn From Live Entertainment

In the wake of an economic slowdown or possible recession, the expansion of entertainment competition from TV and streaming platforms may have a softer near-term financial future. That, plus the fact that the connected TV marketplace appears to be maturing.

But consider its live entertainment counterparts for a moment. Can linear TV learn anything from theme parks, concerts and other venue-based entertainment's recent spikes in business?

For example:

  • Walt Disney’s theme park business more than doubled its revenues in the second quarter to $6.7 billion.
  • Universal theme parks' recent quarterly revenue jumped 65% to $1.8 billion.
  • Live Nation, which stages live music concerts and other similar events, is talking up a record 2022 year.

All this is remarkable, especially when you consider that there have been limits on the audience attendance in many of those venues, due to continuing public health restrictions related to the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.



Big TV/media/entertainment companies have for a long time effectively used synergistic marketing to cross-promote their TV shows and movies in their theme parks. For example: TV or movie-themed rides, experiences and concessions for those touchy-feely moments.

Still, theme parks have limitations as advertising and promotion platforms when it comes to relatively faster-moving digital media content and messaging.

TV/streaming platforms are doing everything possible to get increasingly closer to their customers, offering so-called “shoppable” TV ads, and making it easier to sign-on or sign-off when it comes their subscriptions to streaming platforms.

But all of this is not nearly enough. Not when overwhelming trends continue to see massive cord-cutting from consumers who continue to run to all things digital. 

This, in some ways, has contributed to panic among large legacy media and entertainment companies. Many believe more massive -- and seemingly unthinkable -- media merger deals are coming to compete with the likes of Amazon, Apple, and Google in the longer term.

That said live entertainment is one area digital-first media companies generally lack. 

The rush back to live entertainment in theme parks and concert halls after years of pandemic may not be the ultimate savior for legacy media companies. But it should signal to senior executives that sustaining entertainment business can grab new life in key consumer moments.

What else can new or old time media companies do in the meantime? I’d say get even more personal with some live consumer connection.

Perhaps having the cast from “NCIS: Hawaii” come over to my house for a live breakfast visit. I’ll make the cold brew. You bring the leis.

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