As the world entered into 2020, the beer and entertainment industries were thriving.
The craft beer market looked towards a bright new decade after a market share growth of less than 5 percent to more than 13 percent of all the beer sold in the United States during the 2010s.
Thanks to the rise in streaming services and the demand for more options than ever before in history, the entertainment industry was celebrating its own growth (albeit at a more steady 2.4 percent between 2014 and the end of 2019). Box office projections were good too, with Statista forecasting 50 billion USD in ticket sales for the year.
Then on Jan. 20, the COVID-19 or ‘Coronavirus’ pandemic reached the United States.
Bars, breweries, and restaurants across the country have remained shuttered since March or earlier, leaving expired kegs and unfilled orders. Movie theaters are also closed, and most filming projects and release dates have been postponed or canceled. Millions of dollars in revenue have been lost in both industries.
Craft beer has particularly suffered. Nielsen data shows beer sales spiked 11.6 percent in the week of April 11, thanks to consumers shifting to at-home drinking. However, many craft breweries have limited distribution or only sell their beer on-premise.
That said, the devastating economic climate has opened up a window for creativity.
Breweries across the country are now offering “taproom pick up”, allowing customers to order online and come get their orders at the door. Others are even offering at-home delivery or signing with online beer delivery services.
In another interesting approach, Jim Koch of Boston Beer announced on April 24 on CNBC’s “The Exchange” that his company plans to distill returned and expired beer kegs into ethanol. This will then be sold to gas companies to be blended into gasoline.
Likewise, Dogfish Head (now owned by Boston Beer) has already been at work producing between 200 and 400 gallons of hand sanitizer a day. The brewery is reportedly donating the proceeds to help out-of-work restaurant and bar employees.
Meanwhile — while many of its workers may not be seeing the same kind of detrimental income loss — the entertainment industry is also trying to adapt.
Anyone who has been streaming Netflix lately is likely aware of the hit docuseries “Tiger King” and actor/TV host Joel McHale’s follow-up special. It was filmed at his home with interviews done via video chat, setting a precedent for a sprinkling of other “at home” features. Saturday Night Live has been producing “At Home” skits, while major TV networks teamed up for April 18’s Global Citizen’s “One World: Together at Home” concert special.
Movie theaters meanwhile have been left with little wiggle room. Their discontent was made known in late April, with both Regal Entertainment and AMC releasing statements that they plan to ban films from Universal Studios. Both statements came after the studio released several of its films early on streaming networks, then announced future first-runs both on streaming and in theaters.
The tension comes just as movie theaters in Texas lead the nation in reopening. Filmgoers can expect limited capacity, plexiglass panels, and temperature checks.
Even so, the pandemic is ongoing. The United States remains the most affected country in the world, with over 1.13 million confirmed cases and nearly 66,000 deaths as of May 1.