According to the 2021 edition of the FICCI-EY media and entertainment report, the revenue from organised events fell 68% in 2020
Brands are cautious about sponsorships and offline activations because of the looming uncertainty
Live events and offline brand activations, which were taking place on a small scale since late last year, have suffered a setback in some parts of the country due to the second wave of the pandemic, with partial lockdown initiatives hitting key cities like Mumbai and Delhi.
According to the 2021 edition of the FICCI-EY media and entertainment report, the revenue from organised events fell 68% in 2020, due to the pandemic-induced lockdowns and implementation of social distancing norms. The industry clocked revenue of around `2,700 crore last year. It is estimated that the industry will recover to its pre-Covid levels by 2023.
Among live events, stand-up comedy shows have been the first to move offline with comics such as Vir Das and Abhishek Upmanyu doing shows in both open and closed spaces. “Comedy and music are slowly making a comeback with smaller venues in cities opening up. We saw events in music, comedy and theatre genres go offline,” said Shreyas Srinivasan, CEO, Paytm Insider.
“Our open-air music property, Live At DLF Avenue, saw artists like Ritviz, Peter Cat and Seedhe Maut perform live,” Srinivasan added.
However, the resurgence of lockdowns has cast a shadow over such events. According to reports, IPL’s offline activities such as player-fan meet ups and dine-in tie-ups have already been affected.
Brands are cautious about sponsorships and offline activations because of the looming uncertainty. “With the unfortunate turn of events, brands are slow to respond to live events now,” says Deepak Kumar, director, Hyperspace, a shopper marketing agency.
In 2020 several event organisers and content creators used platforms like Instagram, YouTube and Zoom to organise live events online. One year on, consumers and brands want more from online live events. “For online events to succeed, we require deep engagement, gamification and most importantly, broadcast quality streaming,” observes Roshan Abbas, president, Event and Entertainment Management Association.
In India, despite there being several apps and services that add multiple layers of gamification and integrations, live online events have not come close to replicating the offline experience for audiences, say experts.
“Audiences have multiple entertainment options in the form of both free and paid content. And those experiences are far more engrossing for consumers in comparison to live online events,” says Hariom Seth, founder, Tagglabs, a company that provides technology solutions to event organisers. He says that not only are sponsorships for online live events lower, even selling tickets in the price range of Rs 300-1,000 per user is tough for a purely online experience.
This is possibly why people are looking to pay for upskilling tutorials or online courses that teach hobbies and not necessarily alternatives to entertainment. “Digital events that are trending now allow people to upskill, build on a talent/hobby or learn something entirely new. About 60% of events listed on our platform are workshop-focussed,” says Srinivasan.
Abbas says corporates have leveraged online events to organise everything from product demos to product launches (especially automotive brands). Further, existing IPs such as the Lakmé Fashion Week and Bacardi NH7 Weekender adopted digital avatars. Lakmé Fashion Week’s virtual event integrated the element of shoppable content while Bacardi NH7 Weekender had features like virtual parties during the stream, games, virtual photo-booths, etc. Attendees could even join live parties along with artists and fans. However, creating innovative technological experiences for virtual events within limited budgets is resulting in sub-par products that are not attractive to consumers, say experts.
The deals between event organisers and brands are not limited to creating one blockbuster event. “On digital, brands are spreading their risk by multiplying the number of online events they do until the desired ROI has been achieved,” says Abbas.