Digital Leisure


A chapter that is clearly missing from the subject textbook by Veal, Darcy and Lynch (2013) is one on digital leisure. This is a massive growth area in our lives as evidenced by leisure participation rates identified in previous weeks in this subject. This module scratches the surface of what is a multi-billion dollar industry within the sphere of leisure. This module primarily focuses on the field of online entertainment (e.g. film, TV, and gaming technologies). It does not enter into the massive arena that is social media other than references to YouTube. While working through this module please consider how might you include digital leisure into your own leisure business opportunity?

Online digital leisure has been around for three decades. Check out this amusing advertisement from 1989 about The Sierra Network:

2:30 mins:

What is Digital Leisure now and into the future?:

This video from Channel NewsAsia is called “Leisure in the Future” [5:20 mins]. It discusses how technology is pushing us to individualism but “at the same time we are social animals”. It explores the trends in leisure consumption and technologies, and also how technology can enhance experiences.

Lauren Schnipper is a film, TV and stage producer who presented an awesome TED Talk called “The Future of Entertainment and Technology” [11:48 mins]. You are encouraged to watch the first eight minutes of this video. It discusses how technology is changing for leisure and how easy it is now for someone to produce their own content due to high speed Internet and lower cost.

Schnipper said that “clearly there is a lot of choice out there and every single one of these movies, TV shows, web series, apps, and devices are all vying for your attention… and how much free time do you actually have to consume content?”. How do you balance this? Schnipper also said that “You have in your pocket, wait for it, an HD camera with a microphone where you can make endless hours of video and upload it to your choice of the biggest platforms in the world” and “For the first time in history the future of entertainment is truly in your hands and your pockets so get our your phones and make stuff.” Do you actively use technology to ‘produce’ your own content? Why not have a go at doing this an uploading it to your portfolio?

Examples of Digital Leisure

Below is a slide show of examples of digital leisure conducted on an iPad:

This Grid showcases how TV, Radio, Netflix, Home Studios, Poker/Arcade Games as well as Apps like Supercoach are all available on your iPad.

New business models:

To commence looking at new business models, please watch this video by Jack W. Plunkett, CEO of Plunkett Research, Ltd. This short clip looks at different business models in the leisure industry:

5:27 mins

Traditional leisure industries need to explore the relevance of their business model in contemporary society. A recent news story by PBS Newshour from March 2015 was called:

“How do we keep arts vital in an age of online entertainment?” This was an interview by Jeffrey Brown with author Michael Kaiser of the book “Curtains? The Future of the Arts in America”.

5:52 mins

This interview talked about the relevance of the arts (especially physically attended arts) in contemporary society and how their business models relate to the digital age. It also raised the point of the amount of ‘choice’ being an issue for traditional arts industries. Kaiser said that “we have faced many challenges in the arts for many years, but more recently, so much entertainment and arts are available online or in movie theaters and they are becoming very important competitors to those who present live performances in their theaters”. You can read the full transcript HERE:

Monetised videos:

An example of a relatively new business model is the monetisation of online films on social media sites like YouTube. Have you heard of Felix Kjellberg? For those of you who from generations Y and Z you would know him as PewDiePie. As a case in point, in 2015 Kjellberg had monthly earnings up to $US1.4m in 2015 from simply having people watch him play video games. This next video from 2015 is an interview between Kjellberg and well-known host Katie Couric for Nightline on ABC News called “How PewDiePie, YouTube Star, Made Millions Playing Video Games”.

6:40 mins

As he discussed, a key part of Kjellberg’s success is that he is an entertainer. Couric summed it up well:

“It’s a trend that’s now being referred to as the let’s play phenomenon where watching someone play a video games is an entertaining as playing the game itself.”

Couric saw it as his viewers, or Bros, “hanging out with their friend”.

Free to play (F2P) online gaming:

Another business model to come about recently is the free to play (F2P) approach to gaming. This October 2012 interview by GamerHubTV with President of Sony Online Entertainment John Smedley focussed on the future of online gaming. Smedley described the F2P business model where consumers can try before they buy. A significant proportion of content is free but with in-app or in-game purchases or add-ons.

7:19 mins

In 2015 Sony were riding the wave of this business model. A Fortune Online article January 2015 by John Gaudiosi claimed that:

“The wave of free-to-play video games is surging, and Sony’s along for the ride”.

Gaudiosi claims that:

“today, the free-to-play gaming model is global in scope and has come to dominate the mobile gaming market. It's also an area of growth for console games.”

This type of business model is akin to the ‘freemium’ model where basic content is free but

“users get basic features at no cost and can access richer functionality for a subscription fee”.

Examples of this form of business model are online newspapers, online magazines and LinkedIn.

Another example of F2P or freemium type model is in-app purchases. In February 2015 two F2P games were so successful that they could afford advertising as part of the Super Bowl. According to the Washington Post,

“Both Clash of Clans and Game of War are fantasy games that rely on a "freemium" model - the basic game is free, but players pay for in-game extras, such as another life or power-ups. They are consistently among the most popular games on iTunes and have been downloaded millions of times.”

Watch the next two videos here:

Game Of War Super Bowl Commercial | 31 sec

Clash of Clans Super Bowl Commercial | 1:01 mins

However, this approach to the online gaming business is forcing other companies to relook at their business model. According to Gamespot, “Nintendo president Satoru Iwata recently commented that free-to-play is actually hurting the company's hardware business because it means the Japanese game giant must work even harder to convince gamers to buy a 3DS or Wii U.”


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