The 7 Biggest Entertainment Trends of 2020

Here are the 7 biggest entertainment trends in 2020. And specific examples of what's pushing each trend forward.

Whether you're in the entertainment industry or just looking for something fun to pass the time, these are the top trends to watch.

1. Social Video Takes Off

Search trend for "houseparty" keyword

Searches for "Houseparty" over time.

With Facebook Watch, Facebook is doing everything it can to steal the social media video throne. (The one YouTube has been sitting on for years.)

And with 720 million monthly viewers, it may be working.

But while Facebook has impressive numbers, it's far from trendy. 

TikTok, on the other hand, is a rocketship.

As of this writing, the biggest new video-based social network has over 800 million monthly active users.

And those users aren't afraid to invest in getting more followers. (One telltale sign: TikTok-related products that have started to surface, like TikTok lights.)

Houseparty is another video-based social network in the "rocketship" category this year.

Unlike TikTok, Houseparty is focused on live video chat.

Houseparty app preview

With an estimated 17.2 million app downloads in March alone, Houseparty may be a top competitor soon.

But no matter who ends up on top, one thing is for sure: social video is a huge trend.

As 5G coverage expands through the rest of this year, video streaming and download speeds will rise.

And we think social video usage will, too.

2. More Streaming Services Come Out

Search volume trend for the keyword "Quibi"

Online searches for "Quibi", the mobile streaming service that launched in April 2020.

Video streaming revenue is expected to total over $30 billion per year by 2024. So it's no surprise that lots of media companies want a slice of the pie.

Paid over-the-top (OTT) streaming services have been popping up left and right to compete with incumbents like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video.

The newest of them is Quibi.

This short-form, mobile-focused service just launched on April 6th. But it's already taking off thanks to its new, original programs. And video content that's optimized from start to finish for mobile devices.

Quibi download prompt

At the same time, Disney is using its deep back catalog to attract subscribers to its service, Disney+. And it has plenty of new programming too, like their flagship show, The Mandalorian.

Disney+ first launched in November 2019. And just 5 months later, it had already surpassed 50 million subscribers.

3. Cloud Gaming Goes Mainstream

Search trend for "cloud gaming"

"Cloud gaming" searches over time. Several related acquisitions and product announcements caused a splash in 2018. Then 2019 was a quieter year for cloud gaming. But in 2020 it's heating up again.

There are lots of entertainment trends in the gaming industry happening right now.

The Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are both scheduled to come out in late 2020.

Everyone is going crazy for Animal Crossing.

Virtual reality and augmented reality gaming tech is making strides.

Esports are gaining steam.

And mobile gaming is more popular than ever.

But the most important gaming trend of 2020 may be cloud gaming.

There are about 3 billion gamers in the world. And very few of them have the hardware required to play the latest, most demanding games.

Cloud gaming solves this problem by streaming video game content from remote servers to your device.

That way, your computer (or phone, or smart TV) isn't the one doing the heavy lifting.

Major offerings include Nvidia's GeForce Now, Google's Stadia, and Sony's PlayStation Now.

There may be a bumpy road ahead for cloud gaming, like any new technology. But it looks like in the future, anyone with a good Internet connection will be able to play the best games.

4. Podcasting Becomes a Mainstream Medium

Online search interest in Wondery

Online interest in the podcast network Wondery.

In 2020, it's expected that 103 million people will listen to podcasts at least once per month.

And that's in the U.S. alone.

By 2023, that number is estimated to grow to 164 million.

Amateur podcasts are springing up every day. In fact, there are now over 850,000 active podcasts.

But the industry is also getting a lot more professional.

Branded podcasts prove the format can work as marketing just as well as it does as entertainment. (Don't believe us? Check out what MicrosoftBasecamp, and even Gucci are doing with theirs.)

And podcast networks are aggressively buying and developing new series. Some include tie-ins to current events and popular TV shows.

Wondery in particular has been on a tear lately.

Wondery's featured podcasts

Wondery's top podcast series.

These podcast networks have attracted plenty of attention from investors with deep pockets.

Wondery has backing from 20th Century Fox as well as VC firms like Greycroft and Lerer Hippeau Ventures.

While the podcast network Gimlet Media was acquired by Spotify last year for $200 million.

With so much money at stake, you can bet that the writing, stars, and production quality of the average podcast will just keep getting better.

5. New(ish) Sports Sprout Up

Bikepacking fitness trend

Online searches for "bikepacking" over time.

Fitness is a "meta trend" that's impacting lots of areas of our lives.

Inside, you have garage gyms, Zwift and Peloton

But outside the house, things are more interesting:

If you don't mind a little danger, axe throwing has been taking off.

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Axe throwing lanes at Bad Axe Throwing.

Or if you'd enjoy an adventure in the great outdoors, there's also bikepacking.

(Yes, that's backpacking on a bike.)

And who isn't up for a friendly game of pickleball?

These activities may not be 100% new, but they've been getting more popular each year. And they're poised to hit the mainstream in 2020.

6. The Korean Wave Goes Worldwide

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Searches for the term "mukbang".

The Korean Wave (or Hallyu) refers to the way South Korean culture is gaining international popularity. It's been happening in Asia since the '90s, but has picked up more steam in the West recently. 

Here are a few examples.

In February, Korean-language Parasite became the first foreign-language film to win Best Picture at the Oscars.

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Next, the Korean eating "sport" mukbang is reaching new heights in 2020.

Videos and streams of people eating on YouTube and Twitch are attracting large Western audiences, pulling in up to tens of millions of views each.

Finally, K-pop is finding a bigger international audience as well.

Many K-pop groups have planned tours across North America in 2020. And the supergroup BTS made a big splash in April with their live #HomeFest performance on the Late Late Show with James Corden.

7. Fans support creators directly

patreon-chart.png

Searches for the term "patreon", a crowdsourced funding site for creators of all types.

Why has direct fan support has become one of the biggest trends in entertainment over the last few years?

According to emarketer.com, approximately 4% of Americans became "cord-cutters" (people that don't have traditional cable TV at home) last year alone. While many folks turn to streaming services to fill the gap, others find themselves consuming content directly from individual creators on YouTube.

The problem is: many creators have a difficult time making a living off of YouTube ad revenue. Especially those that cover a niche topic, like knitting or a specific gaming or movie genre.

Crowdfunding sites like Pateon have exploded to help fans support creators directly.

Unlike Kickstarter, Patreon supporters voluntarily pay a monthly fee that goes directly to the creator. In exchange, supporters usually get some sort of bonus content, like live Q&A sessions.

While most creators use Patreon to supplement their income, others are making a killing from this model. For example, artist Amanda Palmer brings in an estimated $25k/month from her Patreon supporters.

That's About It

Those are the 7 most important entertainment trends for 2020.

The entertainment industry is quickly moving from the living room to our pockets.

And the companies that adapt to this shift in where and how consumers are entertained are poised to become media mainstays.

Published Date: 
April 24, 2020

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