The mystifying outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in the Wuhan city of China has been spreading like a wildfire in several other countries, threatening the life of humans, since the past few months. The pandemic has not only altered our way of living and working but also changed the way we consume media and entertainment (M&E). With the implementation of lockdown, people are made to stay at their homes; thus restricting all the social events and means of entertainment. The pandemic has shifted the social lives of people toward online medium. Moreover, the consumption of entertainment platforms has increased remarkably through television shows, online gaming, and over-the-top (OTT) platforms. On the other hand, theme parks, movie theatres, museums, and other external consumption models are affected greatly due to the declaration of social distancing norms in COVID-19 infected nations.
OTT Platforms to Grab Attention during COVID-19
With the rise of the pandemic, OTT platforms are gaining much popularity. In early 2020, Netflix gained nearly 15.8 million paid subscribers as locked-down audience turned to the platform due to restrictions on other entertainment options. Moreover, similar video streaming platforms such as Hotstar, Amazon Prime, and ZEE5 have also observed a spike in the number of subscribers, introducing a sense of sanguinity in the future of the Over-the-Top (OTT platforms) industry. As the name implies, these platforms provide content explicitly to viewers over the Internet using a television, computer, and/or mobile phones in the comfort of their homes on their fingertips.
Shift of Consumer Behavior to Streaming Services amidst the Lockdown Period
The lockdown enforced during the COVID-19 pandemic has not just hindered industries and the economy but has also altered behavioral patterns in people. The sudden change in consumer's social activities has shifted the mode of entertainment to video streaming services rather than regular television or theaters owing to additional benefits like on-demand services and ease of access. Countries like India and China are projected to observe an exponential growth in the number of content streaming users in video-streaming and pay per view services. In March 2018, Netflix, a renowned content streaming service has announced its plans to add 100 million users from India to their prevailing 125-million subscriber base worldwide.
Presently, considering the conditions around us, we are not sure when we will be going to movie theaters hereafter. Hence, many film producers have decided to release their films over some of the well-known OTT platforms. If movie theatres don’t reopen anytime soon, many more filmmakers might consider to go directly digital.
After the complete removal of lockdown, we are definitely going to go back to the lifestyle we lived before. However, there is undeniably no doubt that viewers are enjoying and appreciating the variety and convenience offered by OTT services. Hence, movie theatres might not be houseful when they reopen, as people will prefer to stay away due to the fear of getting infected and because of overly price movie tickets. If box office collections, which make a big portion of producers’ profits, don’t come in as estimated, more producers are likely to get motivated to work on direct-digital releases in the future.
OTT platforms are likely to continue to pay top dollar for quality content, which means, they will hemorrhage for a few more years ahead. Therefore, as long as there is alluring content on OTT platforms, the OTT market will not standstill—undoubtedly not because of the absence of bandwidth.
COVID-19 to Emerge as a Catalysts in the evolution of the OTT Industry
According to a report by Research Dive, the global over-the-top (OTT) market has garnered $129.3 billion in 2018 and is estimated to generate a revenue of $438.5 billion by 2026. Currently, a few OTT platforms are providing extended free periods with an aim to grab a major chunk of the audience and gain subscriptions in the wake of the COVID-19 disaster. As a result, overall revenue from digital subscriptions is expected to experience an upsurge due to the growing preference for OTT platforms in the crisis period.