As consumer behavior shifts, so goes the industry

Home theater continues to shake up the marketplace as consumer choices and market fragmentation drive new opportunities for profitability. With the new year swiftly approaching, it’s time to start looking at the trends that will instill a more lucrative home-theater industry in 2018.

Online Streaming

New technological advancements are altering media consumption and creating a shift in the entertainment industry, while also obstructing movie distribution. With more than 49 million Wi-Fi-connected homes in the U.S. streaming content from a subscriber service such as Netflix, consumers’ love for binge-watching will only progress in the coming years.

As key streaming services continue to generate millions of new subscribers annually, the adoption of premium home-theater equipment will rise astronomically. Audio manufacturers and resellers should anticipate an uptick in consumer demand as well as determine how to further differentiate themselves to maintain a competitive advantage.

Voice Control Integration

Tech giants continue to unveil new technologies across the wide spectrum of products and services that define the home entertainment space. One innovation gaining widespread acceptance is the integration of voice-control systems. Voice control will continue to be embraced as 50 percent of all searches are expected to be via voice by 2020, allowing home theater to play an integral role in the adoption of more smart-home technology.

Wireless Surround-Sound Home Theater

The home-theater industry has been witnessing a steady rise in technological advancements, which has transformed how music and movies are consumed. This plethora of innovation will continue to fuel the demand of home-theater audio systems in North America and revolutionize the marketplace — especially in the realm of wireless audio.

With the wireless audio marketplace expected to be worth $54 billion by 2022, many key factors are contributing to the burgeoning appetite of consumers who demand more convenient, high-performance home theater without the wires. Through natural progression, additional manufacturers and brands will capitalize on this trend by introducing wireless audio products into the marketplace.

Wearable Home Theater & Virtual Reality

Until recently, dropping inside a virtual reality only occurred in science fiction. Today, experiencing virtual reality through wearable technology is finding its way into our homes and transforming movie-watching experiences. As the integration of home audio systems with wearable devices continues, manufacturers will feel compelled to develop smart and networked home-theater speakers that support VR, especially since the industry will be worth $215 billion by 2021.

Social Networking

In today’s era where unlimited and seamless connectivity is necessary, sports fans and TV junkies desire the opportunity to join real-time conversations across various media platforms.

For instance, thanks to today’s influencer over social media, people want to chat alongside others when a new episode of Games of Thrones is on, which is one of the most tweeted-about shows in the entertainment industry. In fact, 72 percent of TV “superfans” reported that social media plays an integral role in their TV viewing.

Consumers will soon have the privilege to tweet, comment and share reviews while watching favorite programs on home-theater screens as TV manufacturers continue to unleash new social media features in their Smart TVs.

Product Value

No one can argue that the price of high-quality premium home-theater products has dropped significantly while features and performance continue to skyrocket. With a wide range of product offerings in the marketplace at various price points, consumers can maximize their entertainment experiences at a fraction of the cost. Products that also rank high in simplicity and ease-of-use — such as wireless home-theater audio systems — eliminate the need for pricey installation costs while simultaneously influencing shoppers to adopt a wider variety of home-theater products.

Tony Ostrom is president of the Wireless Speaker & Audio (WiSA) Association, an industry group dedicated to bringing the industry’s only fully interoperable, high resolution, multichannel wireless audio capability to consumer and professional products. His 25-year career in the consumer electronics industry has been focused on product planning and development, consumer research, go-to- market planning, technology integration, marketing and training.

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