When does live art stick you to the screen? Evidence from audience’s behavior towards broadcasted contents during the first lockdown
Keywords:performing arts; broadcasted content; innovation; multinomial logit; Covid-19
Framing of the research. Performing arts organizations have been particularly struck by the Covid-19 pandemics, that induced an almost complete stop on live productions. Within a crisis that has affected both supply and demand in most industries, performing arts have seen dramatic difficulties affecting the entire production chain in a longer and more pervasive way with respect to many other sectors. This context, and especially the lockdown periods, have shown an exponential development in the offer of TV or online cultural contents. Most cultural organizations have started the broadcasting of recorded performances, to give continuity to their activities and keep in touch with their audiences using the available technologies and give a service to the community. Coccia Theater (Novara, Italy), after having been among the very first adopters of this approach, has subsequently developed a strategy of product innovation, aimed a tailoring its productions for digital tools, based on the creation of new artistic languages.
Purpose of the paper. This work relies on data collected by means of an online questionnaire circulated among the public of Coccia Theater immediately after the first lockdown in 2020. The aim of the study is to investigate the choice of the respondents of watching (or not) theatrical performances broadcasted on TV or online during the lockdown period.
Methodology. We adopt a multinomial logit model to explain the (unordered discrete) choice of watching (or not) theatrical performance on TV, online or mixing the two channels during the lockdown period.
Results. The findings show that broadcasted performances have been watched more by people that were already frequent attenders of live shows. We can, thus, infer a limited impact in involving new segments of audience. Moreover, the amount of leisure time available during the lockdown did not play a role in driving the choice. Additional findings involve the role of age, genre preferences, company preferences and the attitude towards culture and other virtual cultural events.
Research limitations. The main limitation of the study is related to the sample composition. Although the number of respondents is considerable, the sample is composed only of respondent that could be reached online. This fact limits the representativeness of the sample, but allows excluding from the analysis the attenders for whom the online contents did not represent an accessible option.
Managerial implications. The possibility of broadcasting contents is, indeed, a valuable option. In order to create value in the long term for the existing audience and to reach new segments of the potential demand, however, the product offered through remote channels cannot be the same performed “live”. The range of opportunities related to the exploitation of digital (but also TV) channels must rely on profound product innovation.
Originality of the paper. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work studying the drivers of the relationship of the Italian public with remotely accessible theatrical performance during the Covid-19 emergency, accounting for the role of different channels.
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