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Media Giants Seize on Consumers’ Demand to Get off the Couch

in-person experiences, entertainment

With the shift in media consumption toward streaming so ingrained now, consumers are no longer as excited about the option to view more content from the comfort of their homes — they are hungry for in-person experiences, and media companies are getting onboard.

Take, for instance, Sony. The multi-industry giant’s film subsidiary Sony Pictures Entertainment announced earlier this month that it has acquired Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, a chain of 35 dine-in movie theaters known for offering comfortable seating and restaurant-quality food.

“We believe strongly in engaging entertainment fans outside the home in fun and distinctive ways,” Ravi Ahuja, president and COO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, said in a statement.  “… Alamo Drafthouse’s differentiated movie-going experience, admired brand and devoted community fit well with this vision.”

Earlier in the year, another division of the parent company, Sony Music Masterworks, announced the acquisition of Roast Productions, a live entertainment firm with a presence in theater, concerts and other live events. It appears that across Sony’s entertainment divisions, the company is moving further into the in-person experience space.

Meanwhile, Netflix, the company that one typically thinks of when considering the shift to home streaming, is looking to establish a foothold in on-site entertainments as well. The media giant revealed on Tuesday (June 18) that it will launch Netflix House, a new experiential entertainment venue, with its first locations set to open next year at King of Prussia in Pennsylvania and Galleria Dallas in Texas.

“We’ve launched more than 50 experiences in 25 cities, and Netflix House represents the next generation of our distinctive offerings,” Netflix CMO Marian Lee said in a statement. “The venues will bring our beloved stories to life in new, ever-changing, and unexpected ways.”

Activities at these more-than-100-square-feet locations will include “Bridgerton”-inspired dancing and a live competition drawn from Squid Game, among others, as well as a restaurant with themed menu items and shops selling merchandise from the platform’s content.

Indeed, consumers are willing to shell out for in-person experiences.

According to findings from a PYMNTS Intelligence survey of more than 4,200 U.S. consumers for the “New Reality Check: The Paycheck-to-Paycheck Report” series, consumers spend 7.4% of their income, on average, on recreation, leisure and entertainment. Plus, those who spend more in this area tend to be consumers with the most spending power, with that share rising to 9.3% for those making more than $200,000 a year.

“People have been cutting costs or watching price on different products and goods, but when you look at experiences, that’s where families especially are investing their time and money because they know that they are special, memorable, something they can do together in person,” Jill Renslow, chief business development and marketing officer at Mall of America, told PYMNTS in an interview last month.

Brands including  TargetGroupon and Mattel have, in recent months, have noted the shift in spending away from retail products and toward experiences.

Even young consumers, who are the most digitally engaged, are exhibiting a strong demand for more in-person experiences. A study last year from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) found that 60% of Gen Z individuals report that “even if they don’t need to purchase something specific, they visit malls just to socialize or meet friends.”