“The new Abnormal”: COVID-19 Impact-Entertainment in Kenya

Article by Maureen Kasuku
Posted: August 27, 2020  

Concluding our 3-Part series on “The new abnormal” (that highlights the impact of COVID-19 on various sectors of society), is a piece on how the entertainment industry has been affected and what the future holds.

For many people (like me) who make a living in the entertainment sector, life as we knew it abruptly changed in March when the spread of COVID-19 forced every aspect of our industry to come to a standstill. 

Printing of our monthly paper was halted in April and we’ve lost tremendous advertisement revenue since then. 

With movie theaters closed, concerts cancelled , and various events postponed indefinitely, the global pandemic has essentially brought many businesses in this industry to a pause. 

As a result, the entire industry has witnessed massive job losses, furloughing  and bankruptcies. Several petitions have been sent to the government to intervene and save the entertainment and hospitality industry in Kenya.

Creatives/artists have arguably been some of the most impacted workers by the loss of human communion since COVID-19. The bans on public gatherings and travel restrictions (both local and international), alongside night time curfews, social distancing measures, closure of  public spaces, and restrictions on movement, have radically changed social and economic interactions for creatives in Kenya.

Stand up comedians, musicians, DJs, heck, even exotic dancers have had to come up with alternative ways to entertain their fans (Ahem, Onlyfans anyone?).

According to a report by HEVA fund, 88% of creatives who took part in their Impact of COVID-19 on Creative and Cultural Industry survey witnessed a decrease in incomes over the Q1 2020 as a result of the pandemic. 

Artists have had to come up with ingenious ways to stay afloat; from virtual concerts to using Patreon and similar apps to get paid for their content and even taking up offers to perform at people’s private residences. 

Sports have also taken a hit. From ticket sales to fan merchandise purchases. The most significant sporting event of 2020 was supposed to be the summer Olympics that was to be held in Tokyo, Japan. The event has since been postponed to July 2021. 

But it hasn’t been all dark and gloom for others. Netflix and other streaming services have gained plenty of  subscribers since March. According to Netflix, their first quarterly figures show that the company now has more than 183 million global customers, adding more than 15 million in the last quarter of 2020 alone. This onward streak is expected to continue in the coming months.

Online gaming has also become wildly popular during this pandemic and YouTube streaming has increased significantly thus increasing advertisement revenue for content creators on the platform.

So what does the future hold for other players in the industry? They’ll have to adapt or die.

Cinemas can for example, transform parking lots into drive-in theaters. This will be a great way to reignite an old pastime. Drive-in theaters are a much safer alternative to traditional theaters. They can implement this or reduce the number of the film enthusiasts patronizing their theatre halls. 

Musicians, dancers, comedians, DJs and other creatives will have to embrace online content creation and stay consistent with quality and quantity. As their fans, we need to seriously show up for them by supporting their Patreons and other similar income streams.

Private residence performances for connoisseurs of various art forms who have the money to spare will increase significantly.

Spectator sports have been badly hit and will have to find alternative streams of income. Say, charging a premium for live streaming.  This is as opportune time for e-sports to thrive.

High end restaurants and bars will have to take the elite route and offer exclusive, bespoke, dining experiences for their clientele. They can cater to small crowds by offering them delectable packages. There are people always willing to pay a premium for an air of exclusivity.

All in all, no one really has the new entertainment playbook. But we must stay optimistic that there will be many future opportunities for those of us in the industry. Leisure and entertainment will find a way to thrive in new formats as people are constantly seeking ways to fill and kill time. 

How will the entertainment industry evolve amid this pandemic? Let me know by hitting me up with an email 

*Read how the pandemic has impacted Women & Education


About the author

Maureen Kasuku

Maureen is our resident cat lady and Beyoncé stan. She writes about spas, brunch and ballet recitals but has never been to any. Moonlights as a social justice activist in her spare time. She knows things and is obnoxiously opinionated on the internet but not in real life


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