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More than 8 in 10 American adults feel that people spend too much time looking at screens today, and perhaps as a result, two-thirds would choose a live over digital entertainment experience. That’s according to a report from McCann Truth Central [pdf], sponsored by MGM Resorts International, which looked at the role that entertainment plays in people’s lives.

This preference for live entertainment is borne out in the music space, where a majority of Americans’ spending goes to live events.

Based in part on a survey of 6,000 consumers in the US, China and Japan (2,000 in each market), the McCann Truth Central study indicates that entertainment has a central role to play in people’s lives, with virtually all (93%) saying that entertainment is essential to their health and happiness.

Indeed, most respondents within the US claim that entertainment has influenced the person they are today and their hopes for the future. Moreover, a majority also feel that entertainment influences who they are friends with and what they look for in a partner.

Entertainment is typically viewed as a way to pass the time in a fun way, as an escape from everyday routine, and as a way of relaxing to deal with stress. Activities that most people describe as entertainment include watching movies, attending music concerts or other live shows, attending sporting events, and playing games for fun. Notably, few (28%) feel that scrolling through social media qualifies as entertainment, perhaps as a majority of Millennials feel that social media makes them feel more isolated.

Live experiences tend to be generally preferred over digital ones, and that’s primarily due to their being more memorable. In fact, the most memorable experiences cited by respondents are trips with friends and family and live music.

The report comes at a time when younger generations are showing an affinity for spending on experiences as opposed to products.

Asked what are the advantages of live over recorded entertainment, and respondents listed the top 5 as follows:

  • “It’s more memorable so I have great things to look back on” (56%);
  • “It immerses me in the moment (i.e. I’m not as distracted)” (52%);
  • “It’s a change of scene from the usual places of my life” (50%);
  • “It stimulates more of my senses than recorded entertainment” (47%);
  • “It’s a better way to spend time with friends and family” (42%).

But while people clearly praise live entertainment, they indulge in it far less frequently than they would like.

For example, while they would ideally go to 12 live sporting matches per year, on average they say they attend 5. Similarly, they only attend 1 live comedy show each year on average, despite ideally attending 5. And while they’d like to go to 8 live music concerts a year, in reality they average 2.

The four main barriers to modern entertainment, as mapped out by the analysts?

  • Choice paralysis;
  • The rise of loneliness;
  • Universal access; and
  • Lack of prioritization.

The full report is available to view here [pdf].

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