EY Survey: Media and Entertainment Companies Say Resiliency and Closer Consumer Connections Are Top Priorities in a Post-Pandemic World

  • 45% believe that, without reinvention, their companies will cease to exist in five years
  • 50% say they are seeking new ways to reach the end customer
  • 48% cited the transformation of work as key to achieving their strategic goals

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Nearly half (48%) of media and entertainment (M&E) executives surveyed say that increasing resilience is their biggest post-pandemic priority. This is according to a new EY US survey and report, Building a resilient media and entertainment enterprise | EY – US, which analyzes the views of more than 100 global industry executives to reveal how recent events have impacted their businesses.

In last year’s pre-pandemic survey, 37% of executives said that without reinvention their companies would cease to exist in five years. In this year’s survey, 45% of respondents held the same view. Yet, questions remain around where to begin — 42% of executives (up from 25% last year) admit they are uncertain about what actions to prioritize in order to realize their business transformation agendas.

Building resilience and rewriting corporate DNA are mission critical

John Harrison, EY Americas Media & Entertainment Sector Leader, says:

“For media and entertainment companies, building more resilient enterprises requires rewriting corporate DNA. To do that, leadership teams must address the operational and strategic changes occurring in the industry. Reinventing an organization’s internal processes — making them fit-for-purpose and future-proofed — must occur within the context of re-examining the entire business model.”

COVID-19 was a wake-up call for the M&E industry. Executives saw the urgent need to accelerate transformation. More than half (52%) of M&E executives say COVID-19 permanently changed how their businesses operate.

The survey also reveals that M&E executives are building resilient businesses and reframing their futures by focusing on four key areas: simplifying operations and functions; innovating business models; securing the enterprise; and reimagining the future of work.

Simplification, innovation and customer-centricity rise to the top

Overall, 41% of M&E executives cited simplifying the enterprise as a business priority, specifically, consolidation of business units, departments or functions (52%) and outsourcing back-office activities (43%).

M&E executives are also focused on business model innovation, with 48% saying they can no longer rely on traditional industry business models. Developing new distribution models is a key innovation priority, with half of M&E executives saying they are committed to exploiting new paths to reach the end customer.

Broadcast and cable network owners, for example, are now fully committed to the direct-to-consumer (D2C) model, shifting the industry ecosystem structure from wholesale to retail, while film studios are proactively shrinking the theatrical window to get movies onto streaming services more quickly, fueling D2C subscriber growth and achieving efficiency in marketing spend for new releases.

Harrison says: “COVID-19 has accelerated the pace of long-running changes taking place across the M&E industry, including cord-cutting, the explosion of streaming and the non-stop growth of targeted digital advertising. For many of these companies, this is the first time they have a direct relationship with their customers. They understand that they will have to continue to simplify, reinvent, secure and future-proof their businesses to retain customers and stand the test of time.”

Workforce transformation and investing in technology are paramount

COVID-19 is having ongoing structural effects on workforce planning, with close to half of M&E executives (48%) citing the transformation of work as key to achieving their strategic goals.

Among M&E executives, the most preferred option (53%) for redesigning their workforce model involves flexible working practices, including a balance of on-premise and remote work. This move will address issues related to talent and skills gaps, work location and recruiting costs by making it easier for companies to source talent more broadly.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Replacing legacy technology is the biggest IT priority (52%), with improving IT security (44%) and hiring IT talent (41%) also in focus.
  • For 61% of mid-size M&E companies, a lack of investment capital is one of the biggest inhibitors to growth and transformation.
  • Next-gen technologies such as 5G and IoT provide a platform to engage customers in new ways and 47% of executives are investing in them.
  • In the sports and live events subsector, 53% of respondents indicate their businesses face enduring change following the pandemic.

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This news release has been issued by Ernst & Young LLP, a member firm of EY serving clients in the US.

About the study

The latest EY annual survey of media and entertainment leaders asked more than 100 members of the C-suite about their priorities for the year ahead and beyond. Respondents represent US companies spanning the M&E industry’s varied subsectors and with annual revenues ranging in scale from US$250m to more than US$10b. The survey was conducted in December 2020.


Sara Nazarian

EY US Media Relations

+1 213 240 7557


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