OTT platforms emerge as popular hubs amid COVID-19 lockdown

Debarati Palit Singh
Saturday, 28 March 2020

Well, it’s entertainment unlimited! The lockdown has led to more and more people using a variety of OTT platforms. Industry experts tell Sakal Times more.

With people housebound due to the coronavirus lockdown, they are finding ways to keep themselves busy. Social media and OTT platforms are the hubs people are flocking to, to keep themselves entertained. Industry experts believe that the lockdown has increased viewership of OTT players like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Voot Select, Hotstar, Eros Now, among others. The number of new subscribers is also likely to increase.

There are more than 30 OTT players and ten music streaming apps catering to various entertainment and media demands. According to a report from Mobile Marketing Association India and GroupM, more and more Indians are consuming content across an array of digital formats and platforms.

Trade analyst Joginder Tuteja says, “At other times, OTT platforms have to spend a lot on advertising, but now they don’t need to. The situation is likely to continue for a couple of months. Even after the lockdown, people are going to take precautions. I am sure by then people will get used to OTT platforms. It will be a win-win situation.”

Playing its part

While OTT platforms refuse to give the exact figures of how they have gained from the lockdown till now, they do state that there’s a certain level of growth.

Ali Hussein, CEO, Eros Now, says, “In the era of social distancing and limited exposure to the external world, consumers and viewers are turning to digital entertainment, and Eros Now is playing its part. We have seen an increase of 200 per cent in paid subscribers daily, and App Annie shows a 78 per cent increase in daily traffic on the platform.”

Adding to this, Tarun Katial, CEO, ZEE5 India, says that in the time of COVID-19, we would like to reiterate the importance of prevention and self-isolation for all to avoid the chances of an infection. “As far as content consumption is concerned on ZEE5, we have seen a spike across key metros with audiences continuing to consume a wide variety of content in 12 languages. Interestingly, we have seen a significant jump in the consumption on connected devices. This could be attributed to people working from home in the past week,” he says.  

While people are taking precautionary measures to curb the outbreak of COVID 19, Hiren Gada, CEO, Shemaroo Entertainment Limited, says that as entertainers they have the entire onus to ensure that viewers/ netizens find their peace and calm in the middle of all the uncertainties and overflow of information.

“As the streaming habits of netizens evolve and become more diverse, they will be inclined to consume content across an array of digital formats and platforms. Following the same trend, ShemarooMe, our video streaming OTT platform, has witnessed some good engagement on our Bollywood, regional and content category offerings where we have seen repeat viewing and a higher viewing time has been registered,” says Gada.

Free subscription

In a bid to get more traffic, platforms are going the extra mile. Not only are they streaming quality content and latest movies, which is enough to lure viewers, but they are also offering free subscriptions.

Eros Now is offering free subscription for two months to viewers. 

Throwing more light on it, Hussein says, “We have also launched global campaign Eros Now #Staysafe campaign wherein consumers can access two months of free Eros Now subscription, if you subscribe prior to March 31. We would like to wish the health and safety of all in these uncertain times.”

Gada says that this is testimony to how content viewing could spike in the coming days and result in more content consumption across all digital platforms.

Tuteja says that even if overall they cross 20 per cent growth, it’s a much higher number. “They will not get such growth year-by-year basis, and if they manage to get that in a month, it’s incredible,” he says.

However, OTT platforms and Google-owned YouTube have announced to reduce their streaming quality for users in India in order “to reduce strain on internet networks during these times.”

In India, YouTube will temporarily default HD and ultra-HD streaming to SD content at bitrates no higher than 480p on mobile networks, until March 31 and so will the OTT platforms. 

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