With Ireland staring down the barrel of the most severe recession in history, it is clear that extraordinary efforts will be needed to stimulate recovery and job growth. Many sectors have been badly hit, with one of the worst affected being Ireland's €5.1 billion entertainment sector.
Prior to the recession, growth in this sector was reaching record heights, thanks to a global demand for Irish TV, film, gaming, and sports, as well as Ireland's booming tech sector that has produced innovative gaming solutions.
With filming of a number of blockbuster films being made in Ireland now put on hold, as well as entertainment venues struggling to stay afloat, creative solutions will be needed to help the entertainment sector bounce back. Here are some ways that could stimulate future growth in the Irish entertainment sector.
Invest in Streaming
It's clear that the future of visual entertainment lies in streaming. However, despite Ireland's tech boom, it has lagged behind in the world of streaming. Streaming giants such as Netflix and Hulu prefer to set up their European bases over in the UK, rather than Ireland. Ireland does not have any significant home-grown streaming companies, while our national broadcaster, RTE, lags significantly behind the likes of the BBC and France24 when it comes to streaming. A streaming revolution could help stimulate growth and prevent further job losses.
Nurture Ireland's eSports Industry
In the world of competitive video gaming, also known as eSports, Ireland has shown a lot of promise. We are one of the few countries to have set up an official national eSports governing body, and Insomnia Dublin is one of the biggest eSports festivals in Europe. However, more could be done to place Ireland at the forefront of this multi-billion-euro industry. It's clear that demand for eSports entertainment is widespread, which is perhaps best evidenced by the fact that global bookmakers like William Hill now offer live betting on all of the major eSports fixtures, including FIFA Battle. If more is done to promote investment in our eSports industry, Ireland could be well placed to meet this strong global demand.
Expand Incentives for Foreign Film Companies
To say that Ireland is a popular place for filming would be an understatement. Saving Private Ryan, Braveheart, The Italian Job, and several of the Harry Potter films were all shot partially or fully in the country, creating countless local jobs and generating billions of euros in revenues for local communities. As Hollywood and other major film industries resume production, Ireland will need to do more to ensure that it continues to attract the business of the top studios. The first step should be to increase Ireland's tax credit scheme for productions wishing to film here, which currently offers tax relief of up to 37%. This could be expanded so that it is as competitive as similar schemes in the UK and Canada. In addition, Screen Ireland could boost its publicity efforts to lure in more overseas productions.
Targeted Support for Gaming Tech Companies
One of Ireland's key advantages at the moment is that it has an abundance of tech talent and a strong funding ecosystem for tech startups. Enterprise Ireland could take advantage of this to boost the many, many local businesses that develop gaming apps, video games, VR solutions, and more. Specific funding schemes and incubators for entertainment-focused companies would help expand this already-promising component of the Irish economy, creating jobs and generating tax revenues in the process.
These are just some of the ways in which Ireland's entertainment industry could return to growth in the near future. Watch this space to find out how things develop.