2021 Media trend predictions

Blog series: Media industry trends 2021

Scott Purdy

Scott Purdy

National Media Industry Leader, KPMG US

+1 212-954-4207

The acceleration of digital disruption in 2020 may have permanently altered how people interact with media, but the way I see it, there’s more disruption to come. While many streaming services experienced subscription spikes, the long- term impact is yet to be seen. In person events – including sporting and concerts – are still in flux, consumers are re-evaluating how they view entertainment, and businesses are exploring their path forward.

As we look to the future, there are some key trends I predict we’ll start to see in 2021 and beyond across three categories:

1. Shift in how consumers stream

  • “Super bundles” will emerge, aimed at consumer stickiness, as the industry thinks beyond traditional mediums to a broader streaming universe that now includes podcasts, games, videos and fitness. These bundles could include non-video offerings such as music, news, services or even consumer products and transition from a subscription model to memberships.
  • Studios will continue to postpone box office feature film release dates (until after Labor Day), and potentially through to 2022 to realize the lucrative profits. Additionally, premium video on demand releases will continue to grow as the demand for streaming increases.
  • Cord cutting will accelerate through 2021 but consumers may abandon some streaming services as they face saturation and regain access to alternative in-person entertainment options like dining out, live events, travel, and more. 

2. Plan for recovery

  • Market-wide ad spend will recover in 2021, but it will be unevenly distributed with digital channels growing share, and specific industries that have been resilient through the pandemic driving spend.
  • Sports, music concerts, and other live events will come back with force (in the latter half of the year) due to pent up demand for experiences but will face rebuilding consumer confidence in addition to challenging logistics and safety protocols.

3. Emergence of new business models

  • Convergence between gambling, sports and media sectors will accelerate as companies look to strategically join forces to monetize the growing opportunity around sports betting.
  • Artists and celebrities will increasingly offer paid subscriptions for direct and exclusive fan engagement and content.  

While these are the just a few of the trends I see on the horizon, I know there is more disruption to come. I look forward to following these trends closely and seeing where the media sector is at the end of 2021.