The COVID-19 lockdown is into its second week in India and people are not just hoarding essentials to help them sail through the three-week stay-at-home, they are also watching television and binge-watching content across digital entertainment platforms. A recent Nielsen report says that the overall TV consumption over past few weeks has gone up by 8 per cent. However, the winner in the entertainment industry during the lockdown, say experts, will be the OTT platforms such as ZEE5, Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video and many others. If TV viewership has gone up, the Nielsen report says, the time spent on smartphones has also gone up from 23.6 hours to 25 hours ever since the COVID lockdown has been imposed. The number of video-on-demand (VOD) users is at 96 per cent, while the time spent per week on VOD is at 219 minutes.
Tarun Katial, CEO, ZEE5 India, says that the OTT platform's premium subscribers have gone up by over 100 per cent. "We have also made lot of our freemium content free so that customers can stay calm and be entertained." Katial believes that just as the way demonetisation paved the way for digital payments, COVID-19 will be the turning point for digital video consumption.
"The conversion rates for digital video will go up substantially," agrees Jehil Thakkar, Partner (Media and Entertainment), Deloitte India. Rohit Jain, Managing Director (South Asia), Lionsgate, says that the company's OTT platform, Lionsgate Play (Hollywood content), despite being available only on telco platforms has seen a 30-35 per cent surge in viewership over the past few weeks. "These are bitter-sweet times. OTT consumption has gone up not out of joy, but I do expect this to become a habit," says Jain. With kids viewership on television going up by as much as 20 per cent, Jain says that Lionsgate Play in the last one week has added lot of kid's content from its library.
With original content on television (TV production companies are closed due to COVID-19) depleting, Jain hopes that more and more consumers will migrate to OTT platforms. "Though rolling out our direct-to-consumer app has always been part of our plan, we are now trying to fast-forward the launch," says Jain.
A senior media and entertainment professional expects the surge of short-form videos, especially, user-generated content. "All the artists from the entertainment industry are locked in their homes and they are already putting out a fair bit of content on platforms such as TikTok and Facebook. I see this trend of professional UGC going up." As per the Nielsen report, the time spent per user, per week on Facebook has gone up by over 23 per cent, while the time spent per user, per week on TikTok has gone up by 20 per cent.
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