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Live events industry lost $30bn in 2020

Live events have suffered more than $30bn in lost revenue globally this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Pollstar’s 2020 end-of-year review.

The report, which uses data from pre-pandemic first quarter growth to demonstrate “what might have been versus what was” for the sector, predicted that the live events industry should have hit a record-setting $12.2bn.

However, due to the cancellation or postponement of the majority of 2020’s events, box office revenues incurred $9.7bn in losses.

Pollstar said that the projected $30bn figure includes “unreported events, ancillary revenues, including sponsorships, ticketing, concessions, merch, transportation, restaurants, hotels, and other economic activity tied to the live events.” Those losses accounted for more than $8bn.

In the first quarterly analysis of 2020, box office tallies hinted at what might have been a record-breaking year in concert touring and live entertainment. The firm reported overall gross and sold tickets among the Top 100 tours showed a healthy bump of 10.9 per cent compared to 2019’s Q1, while ticket sales rose 4.6 per cent over the previous year.

Ticket sales for the Top 100 tours were down 77 per cent from 57.7 million tickets recorded in 2019 to only 13.4 million in 2020. Due to the need to implement social distancing measures, drive-in concerts accounted for 49 per cent of all events that occurred after March 15, 2020, totalling 419 recorded events with a gross of $18m.

Ray Waddell, president of Oak View Group’s media and conferences division, which oversees Pollstar and sister publication VenuesNow, said: “It’s been an extraordinarily difficult year for the events industry, which has been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus. As painful as it is to chronicle the adversity and loss our industry and many of our colleagues faced, we understand it is a critical undertaking towards facilitating our recovery, which is thankfully on the horizon.

“With vaccines, better testing, new safety and sanitisation protocols, smart ticketing and other innovations, the live industry will be ramping up in the coming months, and we’re sure that at this time next year we’ll have a very different story to tell.”