In the digital economy of abundance, it is increasingly difficult to secure consumers’ “intention”. It is only for the most meaningful entertainment that consumers reserve portions of their time and gather with other people. From TV shows to festivals and cinemas, meaningful entertainment is consumed in social settings and through high immersion. While other types of entertainment are also widely popular, intentional entertainment is more meaningful to consumers and could gain prominence.
In the past, people would sit in front of TV screens for the same programming at the same moment. This consumption was highly “intentional”: people would reserve a specific time slot and gather – as a family and as a society (e.g. 8 o’clock news, latest hit show). However, through streaming and mobile, people can now watch their shows anywhere and anytime, giving rise to snappy interstitial content. But while the attention of consumers is thus getting scarce, it is even more difficult to secure consumers’ “intention”. Only the most popular shows are so extraordinary that they demand intention.Intentional media, consumed in social settings and through high immersion, is more meaningful to consumers. As we did in the past, for the most popular shows we designate a time slot, invite people over, and endlessly talk about the content. As such, people create meaningful social spaces rather than use that content to occupy less meaningful spaces (interstitial media).Only few would watch Game of Thrones on their smartphones: the show is the epitome of meaningful media and its popularity attests to the perceived value of such content. Moreover, this relates to the element of immersion in modern media. High immersion (i.e. TV screens and higher quality audio instead of smartphones and earbuds) creates an altered state” experience that is far more memorable, engaging and thus meaningful. The value of meaningful media will only increase as immersion improves through video and audio innovation. Moreover, new immersive interfaces (e.g. AR, VR) could make intentional media biquitous,mobile and accessible. Nevertheless, as yet, the TV set is the dominant conduit for meaningful media. Meanwhile, snappy interstitial content is more suited for mobile devices, is more short length, ad-driven (while intentional media is more subscription-based), and as more potential to go viral.Social settings and high immersion are also shaping meaningful entertainment beyond media. For instance, festivals are intentional (planned, immersive spaces, social, last longer), while nightclubs are often interstitial (used to fill a night out, short duration, less social).Like meaningful media, festivals are gaining ground while nightclubs are closing their doors. Similarly, we have written about the difference between the appeal of the cinema experience and streaming services. Moreover, with respect to our tendency to pursue altered states, there is a difference between escapism and transcendence, as we have also written before. Escapist entertainment is more interstitial (i.e. escaping dull moments to consume random content), while transcendent entertainment is more meaningful to people. All in all, while interstitial escapist entertainment is also widely popular, intentional transcendent entertainment is more meaningful to consumers. In a world of abundant entertainment, the latter could gain prominence.