An Interview with Jeremy Wills
Senior Market Analyst, Futuresource Consulting
The moving head professional lighting and lighting consoles (MHPL/C) market has certainly come a long way in recent years, with the arrival of LED and now even laser light sources. The current dynamic landscape of vendors, backed by ODMs, has provided more choice and opened further opportunities to innovate, as technologies mature.
This has paved the way for a more competitive landscape, as requirements for professional lighting range from complex theatrical shows and concerts, to small convention centers, external light shows, corporate events and houses of worship. Regardless of size and scale, capturing an immersive experience is something that continues to be pushed and reinvented.
Jeremy Wills of Futuresource talks us through the MHPL/C market, focusing on key trends, products and sectors that may experience future growth opportunities.
Where do you see the most significant opportunity growth across sectors?
Right now, in the midst of the COVID-19 situation, MHPL/C sales have hit the buffers, due to very limited demand from the key leisure and entertainment verticals, which drive both the rental and fixed-install channels. However, there is industry optimism for some revived momentum during H2 2020.
The current key growth opportunity channel-wise lies within the corporate sector. This area of the market is constantly looking for advanced technology to improve events — whether streamed within the company itself, or more widely. When it comes to product or service launches, this is where companies are really looking for that theatrical experience — the wow factor that can be achieved through the right lighting choices. Due to this, ownership or rental of moving head lighting fixtures is on the up in this sector, and will continue to grow, with uplift for some resellers and rental houses being as high as 20% value-wise in 2019. Overall, we saw this sector grow 12% in value for MHPL in 2019.
Two of the “core” sectors for MHPL, live staging and installed leisure, which collectively accounted for around one-third of sales in 2019, also grew ahead of the overall MHPL market, in the mid-single digits percentage-wise. Esports is certainly a growth area within live staging and bars and restaurants in the APAC region and cruise ships in North America and Europe are driving installed leisure demand for MHPL.
Also of note are the Architainment and Houses of Worship sectors. Whilst external building lighting is primarily a fixed head lighting proposition, MHPL is becoming more popular for use in conjunction with projection onto buildings for shows and events. We’re seeing some particular growth here coming from the APAC and Middle East regions. Houses of Worship are the smallest vertical for MHPL, but these venues in the USA, Africa and parts of the APAC region are big spenders on fixed-install audio and lighting equipment, and we saw over 3% value growth in this sector in 2019 for MHPL.
Geographically, APAC and the Middle East are less mature MHPL markets than Europe and North America. There is definitely potential for savvy channel players to drive end-users from low-end to mid-range, or even high-end MHPL fixtures, and we’re seeing some of this in Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. In the Middle East, we see opportunities in the UAE, as more hotels and resorts are constructed, but also in Saudi Arabia for light festivals and Iran is a bit of a sleeping giant.
South America and Africa are relatively untapped but remain challenging markets, very cost-driven, and where unbranded and minor brand fixtures of MHPL tend to dominate over the larger, global brands.
Live staging has typically been a popular area for this market. Do you see this changing?
MHPL presents an evergreen solution for events, festivals and concerts. ] Whilst the live staging vertical is currently hugely impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, we need to focus on the longer-term outlook, where there is definite potential for ongoing growth in all world regions. Expectations are high for these events, with attendees continuously paying more for tickets. With this brings added pressure to put on the best possible show, and the demand for “more” is certainly becoming a global theme in many ways. This is translating into more MHPL per fixtures required per event, although with tight event budgets, the resulting price pressure can often be shared back up the channel, all the way to the MHPL vendors.
Within the live staging sector, esports remains an interesting subvertical, with MHPL becoming a huge driver required for “pop-up” tournaments in convention centers, hotels, sports stadiums and dedicated esports arenas, in conjunction with LED walls, projection and lighting consoles and media servers. Sports stadia are already exploring and will continue to examine the opportunity to combine MHPL with video replays during breaks. This style of entertainment is likely to grow, presenting a huge rental proposition in North America, Europe and parts of the APAC region in particular.
Will there be a shift in focus for the type of products used?
LED has become a dominant MHPL light source. This will continue, as higher power LED modules replace lamp-based fixtures, as light flux improves. LED fixtures are more energy-efficient, and the LED light engines often offer a lifecycle of around 50,000 hours, while bulbs range from a few hundred to about 1,500 hours.
Nevertheless, many beam lights remain Lamp-based, as do some long-range spot/profile fixtures and hybrid units, so this light source will still be needed for the foreseeable future.
As savvy businesses plan for the future, replacement opportunities will become available. We are yet to see how laser-based fixtures take off for moving heads as a light source — an area that may accommodate 5% of the market by 2023. Laser fixtures could be a new tool in lighting designers’ palettes, providing another dimension to appealing light shows with very narrow, sharp beams.
Currently, there is a move by many vendors to offer more IP-Rated fixtures that are resistant to moisture, smoke and dust, making them useful outdoors, in dry climates, and at events using dry ice and smoke.
Other innovations, such as the use of digital mirror devices (DMD) in MHPL may also be on the horizon. There are some heat, fixture size and image clarity issues for the vendors and their ODM and components partners to work through in this area.
What is the current challenge within the (MHPL/C) market?
A: The MHPL market is vendor heavy and many of these vendors have increasingly overlapped each other in recent years by expanding their range of fixtures across the low, mod and high MRSP sectors The current market leaders have moved from being DJ lighting specialists to using ODMs in China to take them to the high-end MRSP range of the MHPL fixture market and there have been some new, innovative challengers, such as Ayrton. As different ranges of MHPL become available across these new and emerging players, heavy discounting across MHPL vendors and the channel has ensued, especially for sales to rental houses, which accounted for over 60% of MHPL value in 2019. Shows and events will always want the best possible rental deal.
How can vendors step up to the challenge?
The way further opportunities emerge all depends on how vendors continue to look for different ways to innovate. Whilst emerging technology plays a significant role in advancements being made, creating new opportunities in existing or new verticals will come down to the imagination of the vendors, and their channel partners to keep one step ahead. This alone will provide that value-add and margin build that’s really needed by the MHPL vendors collectively. The industry needs to re-imagine and re-explore the best approaches to capture the imagination of fixed-install and rental customers, and the lighting and show designers who specify the MHPL.
Futuresource’s global Moving Head Professional Lighting/Console Market Sizing and End-User Feedback Report covers this market in more detail.