Is Entertainment Recession-Proof?


High gasoline prices and the pullback in consumer spending are impacting Americans' entertainment habits -- but not the way you'd think.

Perhaps the entertainment industry overall really is recession-proof: People may be skipping their vacations, but a "staycation" these days means watching more TV and playing more video games.

TV sales are continuing to rise: the number of TVs shipped to retailers in the U.S. and Canada grew 26 percent to 9.3 million units in the second quarter, compared to the first quarter of this year. Sales of fancy LCDs grew 52 percent.

Now, to be fair, while the number of TVs are growing, people are buying smaller sets and paying less for them. DisplaySearch, which reports these numbers, saw huge growth in TVs in the 19-inch to 32-inch range.

Videogames: Not Kid Stuff

In other entertainment news, more grownups are playing videogames. Ibis World, a market research company, is reporting that more women and older adults are joining the stereotypical teen boys in playing games.

The overall video game sector is expected to grow 9.5 percent this year, with women now comprising 38 percent of U.S. gamers, up from 33 percent five years ago. And now the average player is 35 years old, with almost a quarter of gamers over 60. Game and console makers are paying attention to their audience, bringing out more music games like Rock Star which appeal to a wide demographic range of music tastes.

And new games like Bratz Rock Angels and Dora the Explorer target the younger female audience.

Top game companies:

- Electronic Arts

- Take-Two Interactive

- Activision


Great Dark Way?

But there is one part of the entertainment industry that is suffering: Broadway. So far, ticket sales aren't particularly hurting. But there's concern that the dip in ticket sales that happens every September will be particularly deep this year. The real issue is Wall Street investors pulling out of productions they were backing.

A revival of "Godspell" is likely getting shut down due to backers backing out. Even Harry Connick Jr. can't get his production off the ground: "Nice Work If You Can Get It" was indefinitely postponed because producers couldn't reach a good deal.

Some productions are getting shut down for reasons other than economic pressures. But if money were plentiful, the environment might be more favorable.

Questions? Comments?