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  • Writer's pictureKara Holm

Entertainment as an opportunity

“And your own life while it’s happening to you never has any atmosphere until it’s a memory.” ― Andy Warhol

When you think about your life, what do you remember? Is it the mundane, every-day moments when you are going about your business, fulfilling your obligations? Getting groceries. Completing a monthly report. Coffee with co-workers. Walking the dog. Taking the children to hockey. Commuting to work. Updating your Facebook status. Making dinner. Going to the gym. Housework. Despite the current mindfulness trend, I suspect you remember the moments in which you felt something out-of-the-ordinary happened.

Intuitively, many of us believe that entertainment is important to our well-being and happiness. Whatever our personal interests, we seek experiences and diversions to pass the time, escape the banality of our daily existence or as a means of seeking inspiration. We anticipate a concert, seeing a film, a special meal with friends, a holiday.

The types of entertainment and leisure pursuits have changed in our millennium, and vary culturally, but the presence of entertainment remains a constant.

A whitepaper, “The Truth About Entertainment”, published by MGM Resorts International (March 2018), provides a snapshot of our relationship to entertainment in the second decade of the 21st century.[1] MGM’s whitepaper is an interesting document that offers considerations for businesses that are creating and offering entertainment experiences. In addition to the whitepaper, MGM has also created a handy infographic with some key findings and a summary of the authors’ interpretation of the data.

The paper offers significant insights:

  • 92% of Americans believe that entertainment is a “human need.” (page 19)

  • People seek entertainment for contradictory reasons. “52% of Americans say they use entertainment to switch off, and 48% say they use it to switch on.” (page 17)

  • 56% of the respondents claimed they “rarely feel entertained… and half feel regularly under-stimulated by their environment.” (page 22)

  • “As many as 50% of people say they sometimes end up doing nothing, because they can’t decide what to do, again rising to 64% of Millennials. No wonder 2 in 5 people flat out agree that we have too many entertainment options these days.” (page 23)

  • “We actually see a strong reciprocal relationship between digital and live [entertainment] emerging, with 59% saying that the more time they spend on a screen, the more they crave live experiences.”(page 4) Among the Chinese surveyed, this number increases to 80%. (page 40)

  • 70% of respondents said they “wish they had more time to spend on entertainment.” (page 28)

  • The top three reasons that prevent people from accessing entertainment are:

  • Money (61%);

  • “Lack of time” (49%); and,

  • “Too many responsibilities/things to do” (48%). (page 28)

  • Entertainment is viewed by many as an indulgence and is stigmatized as being “frivolous”. (page 28)

To interpret some of the findings outlined above:

  1. People feel stretched on many fronts – we struggle with money, time and competing demands.

  2. Entertainment is important to people, and they know it and want more – leisure pursuits are considered to be an indulgence or luxury, so many of us don’t prioritize these experiences or feel guilty when we do.

  3. We have more entertainment options than ever before, both live and virtual, and the sheer number of choices makes it difficult for many to choose a specific activity. We are paralyzed by choice. And we are also apathetic and indecisive.

So we’re fraught with contradictions. As Whitman says in The Song of the Self:

"Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)"

There are lots of nuggets to mine in this study: MGM Resorts International has made an invaluable investment in this research. But information is only valuable if we apply the findings.

It is possible for businesses in the casino sector to act on these insights to fill the gap between the fundamental need for diversion and entertainment, and the barriers to participating – time, money, choice, and apathy.

We offer some advice:

  1. Have a clear value proposition for what you’re offering. How is it different from the many options before your customers and prospects? Let customers and prospects know you understand that their time is valuable and show them how the experience you have on offer will optimize their investment of both time and money.

  2. Merge the digital and live experience. Encourage people to share and create content. Augmented and mixed reality platforms present huge opportunities for customer engagement and retention. Our new treasure hunt and engagement platform, Play the Field™, will be testing augmented reality in the casino context starting next month.

  3. Considering the big picture, we should reframe how we think about entertainment: we need to give people permission to have fun.

According to the report, “69% of Americans agree the world would be a better place if people got more live entertainment.” (page 16)

And so, with Play the Field™, which encourages people to get out and enjoy live experiences and validates their wish to be entertained, I can join the legion of start-up founders who complete their elevator pitch with “…and we are making the world a better place.”

Entertainment is a fundamental human need, and those of us who work in industries that promote entertainment are making positive contributions.

[1] The researchers completed a literature review, questioned an expert panel, and consulted with consumers in the USA, China and Japan through qualitative and quantitative research.


Insights from MGM's Expert Panel

Entertainment is kind of an in-between space, a ‘carnival’ space, between reality and fantasy. It changes the norms for behavior so we can try out risks and alternative identities and transgress boundaries.

– Lynn Zubernis, Professor of Psychology, West Chester University

(page 34)

Entertainment stimulates the pleasure and reward centers of the brain which are very central not only to humanity but throughout evolution, this is what had driven all species.

– Dr. Valorie Salimpoor, Neuroscientist, Baycrest Health Sciences

(page 12)

Entertainment becomes a way in which individuals nd their tribes, develop self-esteem, and reach self-actualization.

– Ken Spring, Associate Professor of Sociology, Belmont University

(page 14)

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