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LOS ANGELES COUNTY NEWS
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Film Industry Thrived Through Pandemic Thanks to Streaming Video on Demand

6/09/21

This report was provided by CBRE Pacific Southwest Thought Leadership

Like most industries around the world, film and television was rocked by the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic. As a result of social distancing guidelines and productions pressing pause out of an abundance of caution, global entertainment revenue fell 18% year-over-year to $80.8 bil in 2020, according to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPPA). Theaters bore the brunt of the damage, pulling in a paltry $12 bil in revenue in 2020 compared to the $42.3 bil achieved the year before.

Despite theatrical challenges, the region’s film sector is thriving thanks to streaming video on demand (SVOD). According to the MPAA, theater-going audiences stuck at home propelled global digital revenue to $61.8 bil in 2020—an increase of 31% year-over-year. In the U.S., digital revenue increased 33%, totaling $26.5 bil.

With theaters and in-person activities closed for much of the year, movie-goers had more time to enjoy streaming movies and television from the comfort of their home. According to the MPAA, global streaming service subscribers topped 1.1 billion in 2020, an increase of 26% from 2019. In the U.S., online video subscriptions increased 32% year-over-year to 308.6 million people in 2020. Additionally, 55% of U.S. adults reported their viewing habits changed due to the pandemic and were watching SVOD more than ever.

With consumer appetite for content at an all-time high, studios were eager to jump right back into filming as soon as possible; more so in LA County, the nation’s largest hub for filming by total sound stage square feet. Even with more than 5 msf of sound stages, occupancy has remained well above 95% for several years, according to FilmLA. Thus, several prominent regional studios have set out to expand their footprint—either by adapting existing industrial warehouse space or building new stages from scratch.

As of Q2 2021, approximately 200k sf of sound stage space is currently under construction in the GLA region while an additional 1 msf of stage space is planned or proposed.

The increased demand for stage space has created tailwinds for studio operators, such as Hudson Pacific Properties, which reported a 5.9% increase in studio net operating income year-over-year for their Sunset Bronson, Gower, and Las Palmas facilities. Hackman Capital, one of the largest studio operators in the region, expanded their portfolio of studio space early in the year with the $160 mil acquisition of the Sony Pictures Animation Campus in Culver City; the company also assumed management and operational control of Raleigh Studios in Los Angeles.

Applications for film permits have been on the rise since filming resumed in LA last summer. Despite a momentary dip during the winter COVID-19 surge, the rollout of the vaccine and continued pent-up demand has bolstered studios and film makers to get the cameras rolling once more. In March 2021, filming permit applications in Los Angeles County totaled 1,125, an increase of 107% since January. Despite the revived filming, the sector's employment remains well-below 2019 levels. 70,200 regional entertainment industry jobs were shed from March to April 2020 as a result of the initial lockdown and only one-third of the jobs lost have since been recovered. As filming projects resume and further social distancing guidelines are lifted, it is likely employment will recover further, albeit at a gradual pace that is unlikely to keep up with demand.

This report was provided by:

Eric Willett
Research Director

Dan Hunker
Research Analyst

CBRE Pacific Southwest Thought Leadership





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