Words by Katie Puckett
Welcome to a world of 24/7 stadiums, shape-shifting sports pitches, alternative-reality theme parks, and tours by dead rock stars. It’s going to be one hell of a ride …
Experiences are the new stuff.
How do you spend your downtime? In a digital, on-demand world, the choices are almost infinite. We can tap into any kind of entertainment whenever we want, from anywhere. YouTube users watch 1 billion hours of video every day, Spotify users can stream more than 50 million songs, Netflix subscribers can surf 1,569 television programmes and 4,010 films, and Twitch’s 4 million monthly streamers produce content for an average of 51,400 live channels at once. But doesn’t watching on your own get lonely?
It seems that it does: in this atomized space, live communal experiences have become more valued than ever. And the more of the world we see on a screen, the more we want to go and explore it. Clutter is out, memories are in. Consumer data shows that people are spending less on “stuff” in favour of travel, dining out — and events.
“Everyone thought that digital would cannibalize live events. But the more time people spend on social media, the greater their desire for one-off experiences”Chris Lee, Populous
Even gamers are going out. More than 23,000 esports fans went to the League of Legends World Championship Finals at Incheon Munhak Stadium, South Korea in October 2018, and 174,000 fans attended two weekends of esports tournaments at ESL One in Katowice, Poland in March 2019.
“Reality gaming” is growing too, in the form of escape rooms, immersive problem-solving games where teams work together to escape against the clock. The first opened in Japan in 2007, and the phenomenon has since spread across Asia, North America and Europe. There were approximately two dozen escape room facilities in the US at the end of 2014. By mid 2018, there were more than 2,300.
Thrills, spills and roller coasters
2018 was an eighth record year of growth for Live Nation, the world’s largest live events company. 2019 promises to be another. Ticket sales were up by 16% in the first half, with its concerts expected to draw nearly 100 million fans worldwide 
In an average week in 2018, sports events across the world attracted cumulative attendances of 42 million people 
In 2017, a record 1.1 billion thrill-seekers went to theme parks around the world, spending US$44.8 billion 
“The more we’re able to do at home, the more we crave going out, being with people we care about and doing something hopefully a little extraordinary”Craig Hanna, Thinkwell
It’s not just to have something cool to put on your Instagram feed … In 2018, Live Nation, surveyed 22,500 13-49 year olds across 11 countries:
66% said they were “starving for experiences that put them back in touch with real people and raw emotions”
71% said “the moments that give me the most life are live experiences”
73% agreed with the statement: “Now, more than ever, I want to experience real rather than digital life”