By sheer volume, India and China have long been ranked among the largest markets for the entertainment industry, and even more so now that a digital revolution has taken over in both. However, it’s across the continent that entertainment consumption is on the rise. In the Asia-Pacific region alone, Business Wire reports a CAGR of 7.2 per cent over the next five years. Over the border, India looks to build up its media and entertainment market to colossal figures once more, if the paper from IBEF comes to fruition, with it flying from US$18 billion in 2020 to US$29 billion in 2023 (17% CAGR).
As one would assume, the nation of nearly 1.4 billion people has an even bigger entertainment industry, with China’s market said to be worth over US$330 billion. Even with those numbers, Tokyoesque records Japan’s entertainment sector as boasting the third-largest film box office and second-largest music industry. The Korea Republic certainly isn’t a slouch, either, with K-Pop running wild around the world and Korean filmmakers putting the nation on the map, with the likes of Bong Joon-ho finally getting the plaudits overseas that he deserves. Closer to home, the Pakistani entertainment industry is greatly populated with products from India, but makes are now being made, particularly in regards to music, to create a flourishing scene, with Spotify reportedly coming to the nation.
The new age of digital entertainment
While the internet penetration rate in Asia is slightly below the global average at 55.1 per cent as of 2020, it still shows that the glut of the continent’s population is online. More importantly, perhaps, is smartphone penetration. New Zoo’s global smartphone penetration insights has South Korea (5th: 76.5%), China (8th: 63.4%), Vietnam (9th: 62.9%), Iran (10th: 62.9%), Japan (12th: 59.9%), Indonesia (13th: 58.6%), and Thailand (15th: 54.3%) all in the top-15 nations, with the Philippines, Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan making it into the top-20. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that new, mobile-optimised forms of entertainment have taken off. Recognising the demand, online entertainment platforms like Betway introduced slots that appeal to users across Asia. As a result, the likes of Ultra Blazing Fire, Long Mu Fortunes, Bushi Sushi, and Cricket Star have become the site’s gateway into the Asian entertainment industry. Given that App Developer Magazine reports there being some 1.3 billion mobile gamers in Asia, it helps a lot that these slots are mobile-optimised.
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In another much newer line of entertainment, which also spawns from an older form of entertainment, eSports continues to go from strength to strength. This year, Sumail Hassan put Pakistan on the map, with Zameen reporting that he’s made US$3.6 million as a professional gamer, landing 11th in the world. It’s certainly a new sport that Pakistan is taking seriously, with the likes of DOTA 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Valorant, and PUBG being focal points along with the record-breaking mobile version of Call of Duty. Pakistan isn’t the only eSports hub in Asia, though, with Asia eSports accounting for over 54 per cent of the market. Viewership is the main metric for success in the burgeoning industry, with there being some 620 million spectators last year – an increase of over 20 per cent on the year prior. This new form of sporting entertainment that Asia has embraced is creating new opportunities for talented gamers, such as Pakistan’s ‘King of Tekken,’ Arsalan Ash, who joined up with Red Bull earlier this year.
Still an endearing love of a classic entertainment medium
Movies, particularly when shown in theatres, are still big business across Asia. Even with the rise of internet and smartphone penetration rates, and the OTT platforms that come with such connections, box offices look to rank among the biggest in the world from Asia. By revenue last year, China ranked first in the world, with Japan in third, the Korea Republic in fifth, and India in seventh. In 2019, tickets sold also showed the strength of the cinematic experience in Asia. The continent is dominating at the box office again now but in 2019, China led the world with some 1.65 billion tickets sold, with India just behind at 1.5 billion. South Korea and Japan also broke into the top ten in this regard.
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Naturally, the most famous film industry on the continent is India’s Bollywood, which is just of the nation’s many. The Hindi-language industry based in Mumbai is worth some US$2.5 billion but reaches beyond India now. In 2016, it was reported by Riazhaq that Pakistan is Bollywood’s second-largest foreign market, with box office tickets in Pakistan jumping a massive 28 per cent that year. For as little as it exports, China is the massive market that movie makers around the world want to break into. Hollywood toils to get a handful of its pictures into China, but earlier this year, China welcomed five movies from Pakistan for a themed film week to celebrate 70 years of diplomatic ties.
Asia’s entertainment market is booming right now, greatly thanks to the increasing availability of the internet and its entertainment platforms. India and China will remain the powerhouses for content and audience size, but the likes of Pakistan, Japan, and the Korea Republic are also at the top end of the mix.