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US media market could grow by up to 20% by 2030 amid rise of immersive entertainment, finds Bain & Company

Study predicts immersive content platforms could accelerate decline of traditional video and displace streaming services and social media platforms


Revenue streams from immersive entertainment platforms could grow the US media market by up to 20% by 2030, according to new research released from Bain & Company.

In its report, The New Era of Immersive Entertainment, Bain predicts immersive platforms could accelerate the decline of traditional video and displace the streaming services and social media platforms of today.

“The media industry is on the precipice of a major disruption as we enter a new era of immersive content,” said Maureen Sullivan, partner in Bain’s Communications, Media and Entertainment practice. “Although interest in the metaverse has taken a back seat to the wave of enthusiasm around generative AI, we can expect to see a fundamental shift in the ways we consume media. Winning media companies will prioritize building robust franchise engines to cultivate fandoms, investing behind technology and talent, and testing and learning around new audience engagement strategies and monetization streams.”

The shift from “lean back” to “lean in” media content

As consumers transition from traditional digital entertainment to options that are more immersive, Bain says media companies should take a “lean-in,” as opposed to a “lean-back,” approach to content development. Bain describes “lean-back” content to include everything from books to streaming media, while “lean in” includes media that is much more interactive such as gaming platforms, social media and other user-generated content. Teens and adults under age 35 spend about half their media time engaging in “lean-in” content, Bain found.

“Elements necessary for the Immersive Era are already here,” said John Senior, partner in Bain’s Communications, Media and Entertainment practice. “Media companies seeking to remain relevant should build up their capabilities to develop “lean-in” content, real-time operations and nonlinear storytelling. A good example of where we see such capabilities already being leveraged is for online gaming platforms which are now being used by consumers for activities beyond gaming.”

Two types of immersive entertainment models

There are two types of immersive entertainment models that Bain predicts will coexist during the next era of media. The first is the “walled gardens” model, which is used when a platform is owned by one company that curates the experience, provides the majority of the content, and captures user data. The second is the “broad entertainment” model, used when a platform hosts many brands and franchises from a wide variety of content producers.

Three priority areas for success

While adoption speeds may vary, executives should be prioritizing three key areas to ensure success in the Immersive Era:

  • Build or enhance a robust franchise engine. Franchises cultivate fandoms that enable new ways to monetize content. Old content should be reevaluated for franchise potential, and IP should be activated across multiple mediums.
  • Identify and invest behind required technology and talent. Understand the tech stack that is needed for the Immersive Era. Determine new skills and talent to develop immersive, “lean-in” content.
  • Begin to experiment. Invest in testing and learning. Use existing platforms and channels to build immersive experiences and test audience engagement and new monetization streams.

About Bain & Company

Bain & Company is a global consultancy that helps the world’s most ambitious change makers define the future.

Across 65 cities in 40 countries, we work alongside our clients as one team with a shared ambition to achieve extraordinary results, outperform the competition, and redefine industries. We complement our tailored, integrated expertise with a vibrant ecosystem of digital innovators to deliver better, faster, and more enduring outcomes. Our 10-year commitment to invest more than $1 billion in pro bono services brings our talent, expertise, and insight to organizations tackling today’s urgent challenges in education, racial equity, social justice, economic development, and the environment. We earned a platinum rating from EcoVadis, the leading platform for environmental, social, and ethical performance ratings for global supply chains, putting us in the top 1% of all companies. Since our founding in 1973, we have measured our success by the success of our clients, and we proudly maintain the highest level of client advocacy in the industry. 

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