India’s organised events and activations industry, which was estimated to be worth `8,300 crore in 2019 as per the FICCI-EY Media and Entertainment Report 2022, has been among the worst hit by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. In 2021, the industry could manage a 20% y-o-y revival, clocking a revenue of `3,200 crore. The organised live events industry has its hopes pinned on 2022 to make a healthy recovery.
Several event organisers utilised the Holi weekend to conduct on-ground events and gauge spectator interest. Sunburn, for instance, was held across 10 venues, including in Bhopal, Thane, Chennai, Kasol, New Chandigarh, Pune, and Goa. Yet another music, comedy and gaming festival, BACARDÍ NH7 Weekender, was held across 11 cities including Hyderabad, Jaipur, Mumbai, Shillong, Guwahati, and Goa.
According to the FICCI-EY report, the live events segment will recover to pre-Covid levels by the last quarter of CY 2024 or first quarter of CY 2025, growing at a CAGR of over 30% over the next three years. In 2022, the industry is espected to rake in about `4,900 crore in revenue.
Small is better
In late 2020, when live events were attempting a comeback, the initial events were creator-led shows by performers, singers and stand-up comedians. Two years down the line, that trend seems to continue. “With comedy events still leading the race, techno music is a close second, gaining a niche but strong consumer base. Independent music (Indie) bands with both experienced and relatively new artists have been garnering fans across major cities in India,” says Anil Makhija, COO – live entertainment and venues, BookMyShow.
The Maharashtra government announ-ced lifting of all Covid restrictions in the state from April 2, including celebrations of festivals and events. Live event organisers, though, are being cautious and are running scaled down versions at the moment. “For BACARDÍ NH7 Weekender, we opted to go with just 25-30% of our 2019 capacity,” says Sameeksha Uniyal, consumer marketing lead, BACARDÍ, India and South-East Asia.
Since smaller venues like restaurants have fewer restrictions, event organisers are opting for these as they resume live gatherings. “The most recent trend on the block has been that of small-scale and micro gigs across venues like nightclubs, restaurants, lounge bars and malls,” observes Makhija.
Karan Singh, chief executive officer, Sunburn, informs that the event this year saw a daily footfall of 4,000-5,000. This is a small number as compared to the tens of thousands of revellers who would attend the festival pre-Covid. While people are keen on experiencing events again, the traction is coming mainly from metro cities. Amar Sinha, chief operating officer, Radico Khaitan — partners to the Sunburn Festival — says that these scaled-down events are experiments to check how hygiene and safety protocols need to be implemented and accounted for, before large-scale events take off later in the year.
Not enough takers?
Recovery for live events is slower than that of cinemas, as it was the film exhibition industry that first experienced easing of restrictions. Industry executives say that live events organisers are awaiting further easing of restrictions on capacity and formats.
As a result, brands are taking it slow, too, when it comes to event sponsorships. “With the festival capacity at slightly conservative numbers, the sponsorship levels are minutely different,” says Akshat Rathee, co-founder and managing director, NODWIN Gaming. Organisers are trying to sell a combination of solutions to brands, including online and offline engagements. “We have added a lot of content and influencers as a part of our offerings to brands, which means the value for brands as well as the festival remains similar to previous years,” he says.
Brands and organisers are also trying to work out deals with safety clauses. “Organisers are trying to figure out new contracts that have shared responsibility between artistes, event organisers and venue owners,” says Roshan Abbas, MD, VMLY&R Commerce Encompass. Another challenge is that the hospitality industry has hiked venue rates to make up for the losses from the previous two years, he adds.
Read Also: Milking demand
Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook