by Hannah Williams-
The ways the entertainment industry consumes and disperses art is quickly changing as technology develops more each year. With a rapid rise in streaming services, like Netflix, theaters and performing arts centers are having to adapt to survive. As a result of such services, these establishments are dealing with issues like reduced attendance and low ticket sales.
Streaming services began growing in 2005 with YouTube, a video-sharing website, and its success in the entertainment markets has skyrocketed since then. The biggest catalyst that drew people towards streaming services over theaters and performing arts centers came during the COVID-19 pandemic. AMC Entertainment reported a loss of $4.5 billion in 2020 after having to close all of its theaters for public safety. Cinemark and Regal Cinemas also closed their theaters that year.
Another factor in this shift is ticket costs. The Statista Research Department reports the average price of a movie ticket in the US in 2021 was $9.57. Twenty years ago, it was $5.66. Locally, B&B Theatres in Blacksburg currently prices 1 adult ticket for around $11, while the monthly cost for a Netflix subscription starts at $6.99 and features a wide range of movies and TV shows.
Due to rising costs, some stay home to watch movies, even if it means waiting longer for them to release on streaming platforms. Although, some films, like “Dune”, are released on streaming services the same day as in theaters.
“More movies are being promoted alongside streaming services,“ says Nicholas Powell, a concessions worker at B&B Theatres. “Just about everyone has, or knows someone who has, access to every streaming service. So when those movies come out, I see significantly low amounts of attendance.”
Ticket prices vary for live performances. At Moss Arts Center, prices tend to steer on the higher end. Depending on the seat location, student status and demand, tickets cost anywhere from $10 to upwards of $100.
Kristen Kim, a box office attendant at Moss Arts Center, says finances greatly impact attendance, particularly for students.
“College is hard. There are times when performances don’t cost $10,” Kim says. “You actually have to save up to buy [tickets]. Going to performances is a luxury from a student perspective.”
When the Moss Arts Center sees a high amount of sales, it suffers with follow-through and ticket buyers showing up. Margaret Lawrence, the Director of Programming at Moss Arts Center, says this is the center’s current concern.
“We’re hearing that students are attending fewer events, much less than before the pandemic,” says Lawrence. “We are concerned about students who have gone through the pandemic having to stream everything and have hit this different stride where going to a big thing in person with all these people doesn’t feel as comfortable anymore.”
The growth of streaming services continues, with 83% of consumers having a subscription to video-on-demand platforms. As the effects of the pandemic still loom, there is much uncertainty about where the entertainment industry is headed.