Video entertainment in 2030

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From ‘bunny ear’ antennas to broadband, and from VHS to virtual reality, video entertainment is changing fast. A decade from now, what we watch—as well as how and where we watch it—could be dramatically different. Four McKinsey experts imagine the future.

Video entertainment will be immersive

Jonathan Dunn: There will be sensory experiences that change the way people experience or create a story that are going to feel very different from the theater experience of today.

Jacomo Corbo: Haptics and augmented reality are allowing people to experience the same things and occupy the same space. If there’s an explosion blast in the video, everyone feels the force of the explosion or even the wind on their face.

Kristi Tausk: In a horror film, right now you get scared by somebody jumping out on screen. But what if in the future, when you’re watching that movie, you can actually feel that person standing behind you? You’re in it; you’re in the movie with the actors and experiencing it with them more than we really do today.

Video entertainment will be gamified

Jonathan Dunn: It turns out that video games or interactive entertainment as a format seems to be the general direction of most storytelling.

Jacomo Corbo: I think we’re going to see more and more of a blurring of the lines between things that we watch and things that we play. You might even be able to intervene in a story in certain very specific ways.

Tom Svrcek: You could imagine going to a movie theater and having a game console, where there’s ten minutes up front of a piece of filmed entertainment but then it turns into a gaming experience. And it’s not just in that theater; it’s across 20 different connected theaters. And then you can continue that game with that community when you get home to your game console or episodically over the next several months.

Video entertainment will be personalized

Jacomo Corbo: Think of levels of difficulty within a game that are automatically personalized and calibrated to your patterns of play in ways that will drive engagement but ultimately will make the experience more compelling and persuasive to you.

Kristi Tausk: Every time I open a streaming platform or turn on my TV, it can read me: What mood am I in? What time of day is it? And what type of content would I like to watch at that moment?

Tom Svrcek: In 2030, you won’t have to weed through hundreds of thousands of pieces of content. An algorithm or AI is going to do the heavy lifting to the point where the five things that it’s recommending that you view are highly, highly resonant.

The Next Normal: Video entertainment

The future of video entertainment: Immersive, gamified, and diverse

What companies should do today

Jacomo Corbo: Industry CEOs need to really think about where they are placing new bets. What are the entirely new gaming experiences that you want to be able to support? Really look to stitch together different technologies in order to be able to provide a very different gaming experience.

Kristi Tausk: To become successful, video entertainment companies need to think like a tech company. Data are going to be critical—and collecting that data is going to enable all of this future AI.

Tom Svrcek: AI will never write scripts. It will never produce its own movies. But I am a fan of understanding what audiences’ preferences are and using that to help fuel the creative process—which I believe will always, always be owned by humans.

Jonathan Dunn: Most of the storytellers that we’re talking about in the 2030 period will come from diverse geographic backgrounds, diverse economic backgrounds, diverse demographic backgrounds. The decision makers themselves must be diverse. You have to change the decision makers in your organization. Second, you have to believe that technology and analytics can help you identify the storytellers who the current system doesn’t identify. Third, you need to be comfortable—and even lead—with an accelerated pace of change. Those three things are what we tell leaders in the industry they have to do if they want to be part of what’s going to happen next.

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