The Immersive Audience Journey Report

The Immersive Audience Journey Report


This report for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) creates an important new framework for exploring different audiences in different market segments and how they behave around immersive content. It helps build a better understanding of current and future audiences, how to attract them, retain them, and, importantly, how to grow them.

Foreword from UKRI

Welcome to the Immersive Audience Journey report

The UK is home to some of the world’s leading digital and creative talent, and the experiences produced by projects funded by the Audience of the Future programme certainly exemplify this excellence from large-scale immersive projects through to investment support and R&D into production innovation.

The Immersive Audience Journey report, supported by the Audience of the Future programme, explores if there really is an easily identifiable “immersive audience”, or whether immersive experiences appeal to audiences as part of an already established offering of contemporary art, culture and entertainment.

According to Digital Catapult and Immerse UK 2019 Immersive Economy report, the UK is the largest immersive market in Europe with a rapidly developing ecosystem. Many of the key components to enable creators to achieve more ambitious creative visions at scale are now market-ready. However, there is currently insufficient insight into audiences, causing myriad challenges for the immersive creative content sector.

This report aims to support market growth by identifying sources and methods of obtaining audience insights, and using these to create user awareness and capture the imagination of future prospective audiences. Before the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, one key finding was that audiences are potentially reluctant to embrace immersive technology in the home, favouring location-based experiences as a way to dip their toe in the waters of this new technology. Whether the pandemic has changed audience behaviour permanently is something that future studies should address.

The impact of COVID-19 coupled with continuing challenges of raising investment and building sustainable businesses means that understanding these audiences is now more critical than ever. By sharing the insights from this report, we hope to raise awareness of best practices within the immersive community to help creators and production studios as they pivot their models.

Immersive technology continues to shift audience behaviour from ‘viewing’ content to ‘experiencing’ and ‘recommending’ it ranging from exciting e-Sports experiences live-streamed in virtual reality (VR) to educational augmented reality (AR) applications designed for the whole family to enjoy.

The higher levels of technology acceptance and utilisation prompted by this unprecedented time may also shine a light on immersive experiences that provide truly memorable moments with longer-term impact. This creates the potential for audiences to prioritise immersive experiences in their future selection of art, culture, and entertainment.

Professor Andrew Chitty

UKRI Challenge Director for the Audience of the Future and Creative Industries

Download the report

This report is a result of research conducted by Digital Catapult on behalf of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), in collaboration with the Audience of the Future Demonstrator programme. UKRI’s Audience of the Future programme is funding industry-led consortia in the creative sector to create new immersive experiences.

The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund brings together the UK’s world-leading research with business to meet the major industrial and societal challenges of our time. It provides funding and support to UK businesses and researchers, part of the government’s £4.7 billion increase in research and development over the next 4 years. It plays a central role in the Government’s modern Industrial Strategy. It is run by UK Research and Innovation, which comprises the Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England.

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Resource type: Research | Published: 2021