Reports of the "death of the metaverse" are greatly exaggerated. The scope of investment across metaverse-friendly technologies and experiences remains robust, although aggressive global competition in the AI sector could cause speed bumps.

VR, XR, and spatial computing will see a renaissance in 2024, renewing interest from developers as well as major media and entertainment. Gaming continues to be a major driver of the metaverse, with clear opportunity for new major services to compete against Fortnite and Roblox.

The building blocks are therefore all in place for the next consumer growth phase. Scaling the metaverse will be dependent on consistent and sustained trials, and more engagement from media and entertainment beyond games.

Prepared for The Metaverse Society by Enders Analysis.  

Disney's bottom line results were flattered by a year-long cost cutting drive: the decline in linear entertainment revenue is accelerating and direct-to-consumer subscriber growth has temporarily stalled

A new sports JV with Warner Bros. Discovery and Fox, along with other announcements are designed to grab attention in midst of turbulent shareholder rebellion.  Disney also—at last—unveiled a new games initiative with a $1.5 billion equity stake in Epic Games and a major immersive universe to attract younger audiences

Disney's approach to the licensing of content to third parties is nuanced and so will be its effect on the perception of Disney+'s exclusivity

Public service broadcasters are in a position to plan for the long term with commercial licences renewed for ten years, an updated prominence regime via the Media Bill and a government broadly supportive of the BBC.

With the Premier League and EFL rights secure to the end of the decade, Sky can plan for the future from a position of strength.

Relationships between Sky and the PSBs have improved markedly recently, and as all can now plan for the long-term, this should provide further opportunities to cement relationships for the benefit of the broadcasting ecosystem and viewers.

CEO Bob Iger has announced that Disney is now in a "building" phase—indicating that the strategic turnaround is complete—however, upcoming breakeven of  streaming products owes much to cuts on programming spend

With the rest of Hulu soon to be acquired, Disney looks as if it is pulling out of India—this will make the company's presence outside of the US even more peripheral

In the UK, Disney+'s advertising-supported tier is now live, however, there are forces at play that limit Disney's ability to execute its tiering strategy as effectively as its biggest streaming competitor

Unable to match Netflix, financially-pressed Hollywood studios are cutting content output and reassessing the DTC model

Price rises are being forced through, however for challengers this is asking a lot from subs, who don’t see an improvement in product or usage

The corporate landscape is fluid—loss-making DTC platforms and revenue-plunging linear channels are candidates for M&A

Thanks to Parks (+11% YoY, $2.43 billion), Disney's Q3 operating income remained flat, balancing the decline from Media and Entertainment (-18% YoY, $1.13 billion) as DTC only lost $512 million and linear dropped by 23% ($1.89 billion). No new major growth initiatives were announced but Disney will look to stem DTC losses through Disney+ price rises and a password sharing crackdown.

Major segment resets are looming as Disney looks for new partners for ESPN and possibly buyers for its legacy TV business, ABC.

A difficult remainder of the year will be prolonged if the Hollywood talent unions strike into the autumn and beyond, while Bob Iger stays on as CEO through 2026.

Electronic Arts’ earnings for Q1 2024 delivered strong annual growth across its licensed franchises but also a worrying lag in mobile game revenue due to mobile sector challenges.

EA’s global dominance of sports-based games, and its 700m users, make it a strong candidate to be a ‘strategic partner’ with Disney for ESPN’s reboot as a direct-to-consumer service.

The launch of EA Sports FC24 next month finally sheds FIFA from EA’s largest franchise and promises a dynamic approach to managing football partnerships, but no word on increased margins.

Disney is deep into a race to improve direct-to-consumer (DTC) earnings faster than linear TV profitability falls. It will be a close call.

To get through the profit-depressed transition, Disney is doubling down on digital. Bob Iger now appears decided to keep Hulu, and will reduce content spending on long-term IP creation.

In Europe, Disney’s battle plan is one step behind, with significant price increases yet to be tried, cuts to be implemented, and sales to broadcast partners just beginning.

Recent developments in AI have ignited a frenzy in the tech world and wider society. Though some predictions are closer to sci-fi, this new phase is a real advance.

We view AI as a ‘supercharger’, boosting productivity of workers. The impact is already being felt across media sectors, including advertising and publishing.

Firms thinking about using AI should assess which tasks can be augmented and what data is required. Be prepared for unpredictable outputs and a changing legal and tech landscape.

Broadcaster decline accelerated in 2022, with record drops in reach and time spent. This was primarily driven by the lightest and youngest viewers leaving broadcast television while over-65s also reduced their viewing for the first time.

Loss of lighter viewers threatens the future viewing base of broadcasters and relevance to a new generation. Further, broadcaster status as the home of mass audiences becomes compromised.

However, retention of lighter viewers is not yet a lost cause. They are amongst the heaviest Netflix viewers, and the very lightest are spending more time in front of the TV set than previously—suggesting enduring appetite for TV-like content.