Steven Ekstract notes the upcoming challenges and opportunities.

Steven Ekstract

February 27, 2024

4 Min Read
Steven Ekstract.
Steven Ekstract.License Global

In the intricate world of licensing, where brands strive to harness the power of renowned names to elevate sales, 2024 unfolds with opportunities and challenges. Winston Churchill aptly remarked, “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty,” setting the stage for winners and losers in licensing. 

Well-known legacy brands have seen a renaissance in the past three years when the pandemic caused consumers to turn to trusted brands they grew up with. Brands that once resisted licensing used consumer trust as a launching pad for new brand extensions that delighted consumers and increased sales by bringing in new customers. 

A challenge is the impending U.S. Presidential election, which promises a media frenzy, amplifying the challenge for brands to cut through the clutter of political messaging during this period. However, as history has shown, political turbulence can also be an opportune moment for those brands that approach the situation with humor and diplomacy. 

The opportunity for brands that successfully navigate the political minefield can stand out, resulting in an uptick in sales. A shining example is 2023’s “Barbie,” which revitalized itself through a clever infusion of humor, proving that it can be a potent weapon in the face of political storms. 

Streaming/Gaming Dynamics 

The anticipated conclusion of the Golden Age of streaming in 2024 brings challenges for major platforms facing financial losses. The shift toward advertising on these platforms transforms on-demand viewing into an ad-supported content model, potentially triggering a mass exodus of subscribers and a downturn in the kids’ TV industry. Simultaneously, increased M&A activity reshapes the industry as smaller producers find shelter under larger entities. 

Amid the turbulence, opportunities arise for alternative platforms. Consumers may gravitate toward free or cost-effective entertainment options, benefitting platforms like PBS, BBC and France Televisions. Special interest programming, including anime and gaming, is poised to experience a surge in popularity as viewers seek diverse and engaging content. 

Movies/Gaming Trends 

The dominance of franchised films with substantial licensing presence at the box office underscores the enduring appeal of established brands. However, Hollywood’s risk aversion prompts a surge in branded entertainment development. While Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery grapple with consumer fatigue resulting from an over-reliance on comic book franchises, a new frontier is emerging: multigenerational video game franchises.

In this evolving landscape, video game properties like “Super Mario,” “Sonic” and “Assassins Creed” are taking center stage, offering a fresh, immersive experience. The fusion of gaming and entertainment transforms how consumers engage with IP, signaling an opportunity for licensors to explore novel avenues. 

Mergers/Acquisitions 

The contemplation of a merger between Paramount and Warner Bros. Discovery has sent ripples through Wall Street, sparking concerns about consolidation in the industry. Simultaneously, the dominance of Big Tech giants looms large, raising questions about Disney’s vulnerability in this competitive arena. 

Within the complexities of mergers and acquisitions lies an opportunity for streamlined business operations. Increased studio mergers have the potential to reduce competition, creating longer lead times and more retail shelf space. This could translate into a more stable and predictable licensing environment for licensors, as the media landscape adapts to the times. 

Generative Business Intelligence

As we enter 2024, the integration of generative artificial intelligence (AI) into business intelligence processes heralds a new era of strategic planning. Generative Business Intelligence (BI) leverages AI’s capabilities to simulate scenarios, enhancing decision-making processes and providing a forward-looking perspective. Beyond business planning, AI has remarkable potential for licensing. Developing new IP based on consumer preferences, simplifying design, packaging, shipping and maintaining inventory and royalty reporting revenue will revolutionize the licensing business. Licensing elicits a strong emotional connection between the brand and the consumer. Generative AI can lose some of that emotional connection. The opportunity is to train AI to develop that connection. 

In conclusion, 2024 promises a dynamic licensing landscape where the savvy navigation of challenges and the astute capitalization of emerging opportunities will be pivotal for success. Brands that embrace trends, leverage humor in turbulent times, explore alternative platforms, and adapt to the changing dynamics of entertainment and technology will undoubtedly find themselves at the forefront of this exciting journey

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February 2024Global

About the Author(s)

Steven Ekstract

Steven Ekstract, a former Brand Director of the Global Licensing Group, has been a leading voice in the licensing industry for more than two decades.

After working in Entertainment Journalism and Marketing including Video Review, Premiere magazines and the Hollywood Reporter, Ekstract founded License Global magazine in 1997, the leading news source for the brand licensing industry. He is often tapped as a thought leader to provide his insights and forecasts on the licensing business.

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