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Five Key Insights From MRC Data’s COVID-19 Entertainment Tracker – Vol. 6

MRC Data/Nielsen Music's sixth COVID-19 Entertainment tracker gives us a look ahead at the future of livestreaming. 

Today (Aug. 20), Billboard launched the Billboard Pro Spotlight Live Industry Virtual Event. The mini-conference features a handful of different interviews and discussions surrounding the effects of COVID-19 on the live music business, including a Livestreaming Data Deep Dive with Fabrice Sargent from Bandsintown and Vita Molis from Nielsen Music/MRC Data.

In advance of the data-focused panel, MRC Data released the sixth installment, or Wave 6, of their COVID-19 Entertainment Tracker. They collected the research via Interviews with 1,007 Gen Pop consumers (Ages 13+) in the United States from July 8-13. Check out the discussion here and see below for some key takeaways from their latest release.

Regardless of the content, streaming services are up across the board.

MRC Data’s Wave 6 shows a sharp increase in consumer interest for streaming services. The newest research shows that 42% of those surveyed have added a new subscription streaming service, up from 31% in Wave 5 (week of June 8). Video subscription services like Netflix or Hulu remain the most popular new services to be added (79%), while music subscriptions show the most significant increase in Wave 6, up from 45% to 56%.

Interest in virtual concerts is surging.

With the number of COVID cases growing in most states, consumers are more willing to attend and pay for livestream performances now than any point since the inaugural March 23 survey. MRC Data’s research shows that 44% of those surveyed are likely to stream a virtual concert in the next two weeks, a figure that has grown consistently since April 20, most recently jumping up from 37% in Wave 5.

To maximize revenues from livestreams, artists should be engaging with fans more than ever. 

Consumers are willing to pay for digital events but the more interactivity, the better. Virtual artist meet & greets were met with an 82% approval rating, while the ability to request songs and contribute to the setlist got a thumbs-up from 79% of those surveyed. When asked if they’d be willing to pay for a recording of the livestream or for exclusive merch, the response was overwhelmingly positive, at 73% and 72%, respectively. Fans did indicate however, at 64% (a double-digit-percentage increase from Wave 5), that they prefer livestreams to be shorter with the threat of losing interest quickly. 

Fans are hesitant to rush back to live events with the current state of the pandemic.

MRC Data’s research proved that consumers want to return to live events, only when it feels safe. When asked if one is likely to attend a live event one month or less after treatment/a vaccine is available, 27% responded positively — barely up from Wave 5 (26%). Of course, that number is considerably higher than the 14% of people who say they’ve attended a live event in the last two weeks.

But the safer venues can be, the better!

While interest in live events is not necessarily surging amidst a regression in the national condition, responses were far more positive when prompted with additional safety measures. The interview addressed one’s likelihood to attend live events requiring seven different safety actions and the responses ranged from 62% (no general admission) to 72% (masks required). Other protocols included temperature checks, limiting the number of people in bathrooms, and maintenance of social distance by selling tickets in clusters.