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COVID19 Impact on Streaming Industry

1 April 2020

The TV, streaming and digital video industry is already undergoing a seismic change in its industrial mechanism. The coronavirus outbreak stands to accelerate that change in some respects and reshape it in others. The postponed or cancelled events, due to covid outbreak has led to a decline in revenues for the event organizers as well as for media that broadcast them. Cable television companies are also partly dependent upon advertising, meaning that any decline in revenue will impact profitability. The virus outbreak is already changing how studios release films with some movies deaccelerating their home entertainment release plans. In India, the telecoms have called on the video streaming service providers to temporarily migrate from HD (hi-definition) to SD (standard definition) streaming, and even dispense with heavy bandwidth consuming advertisements and pop-ups to ease network load. This would enable video streaming platforms to continue suitable level of service, easing pressure on networks and also facilitating the govt helplines, emergency and administration helpline services to work smoothly and coherently on the bandwidth provided without much load on the telecoms.

The total TV viewership across India in week 10 (week ending March 19) grew 5 per cent to 906.2 billion, from 865.9 billion in Week 9 (week ending March 13), data shared by the Broadcast Audience Research Council India (BARC India) shows. Sports and Hindi news content showed the maximum spike in viewership during this time, followed by Hindi movies, kids content and Hindi GEC, according to BARC. Latest SensorTower data analysis shows India app downloads of subscription services like ZEE5, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix have shown a strong spike in March 2020. Similar traction, however, was not seen in the otherwise top viewed freemium apps such as YouTube and Hotstar which may focus on increasing pay customer mix as even ad spends on OTT have dropped in this period. Walt Disney has also deferred the launch of Disney+ in India which was supposed to coincide with the IPL. Besides, television, internet browsing and streaming platform have also seen a rise in viewership, according to the survey. Internet browsing saw a 72 per cent spike during the first week of lockdown. The survey, conducted by Hammerkopf Consumer Survey, also found the prime time for streaming platforms began at 7 pm in the weeks of lockdown. Seventy-six per cent of people said they watch TV in the morning between 8 am and 9 am. The survey was conducted across 1,300 people, in Mumbai, Bengaluru, New Delhi and Chennai.

This evolution of the streaming industry has made it more open to other modes/channels of incomes, in terms of TRP viewership and ads revenue. There is a lot of focus on video as well audio mode of transmission of content. This encompasses a lot of opportunity for the makers to dive in different genres and production banners. During the current phase many production work has remained closured for the corona scarce and outbreak. So in order to cope with the pressure of stalled plans, many production houses are getting different linguistic contents films/series, and also re-airing some of the most famous series/serials of early 90s and 2000’s in order to increase and get the primetime viewership. So the scope is huge and varies with time for this industry, basically riding upon the content and viewing patterns of the customers.

The covid disruption is a blessing in disguise for the streaming industry. In India the streaming business is less than three years old, but is already being seen as the market to be won because of the content consuming, English-speaking population, high internet penetration, and high disposable income among urban youth. India is divided between the lower end of the market, with cheaper subscription rates and the lowest common denominator content, and then there is Hotstar which is the largest on the back of the broadcasting of live sports in cricket, footballs, badmintons, kabaddi specially in the subcontinent where the scope is huge and varying. There are also international streamers like Amazon and Netflix which are also serving different markets. The potential is so large and under-explored that everybody is riding on its own strength and steam at the moment.

© SAATRA Research
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