COVID-19: Being 'On-demand ready' top priority for OTT industry

Sneha Yadav
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COVID 19 OTT content plan

While many have seen a spike in viewership, players prepare to meet the increase in demand with a COVID-19 OTT content plan.

As Week 3 of self-isolation begins, binge-watching becomes a larger part of the day. TV and OTT viewership is seeing a surge due to obvious reasons. A number of television channels have announced reruns of classics, while OTT players re-jig their content plans to meet every need from every genre. Social Samosa takes a look at the COVID-19 OTT content plan.

Spike in OTT Viewership

A Vidooly report reveals that there has been a 20% jump in video consumption on OTT platforms. Tarun Katial, CEO, ZEE5 India informed, “As far as content consumption is concerned, we have seen a spike across key metros with audiences continuing to consume a wide variety of content in 12 languages”.  

Interestingly, ZEE5 has seen a jump of over 10% in the consumption of its original content and over 5% for TV content via connected devices like Amazon Fire Stick and on Smart TVs. The subscription numbers are up by over 10% compared to the previous weekend.

Meanwhile, Ali Hussein,

CEO, Eros Now
shared that the platform has seen an increase of 200% in paid

subscribers on a daily basis and App Annie shows a 78% increase in daily

traffic on the platform.

Voot Select too is seeing a definite surge in the uptake of subscribers. It is about 2.5 to 3 times higher than what the OTT platform had estimated. “But this growth cannot be attributed to increased consumption alone,” asserts Ferzad Palia: Head - Voot Select, Youth, Music & English Entertainment Viacom18. “The fact of the matter is Voot Select is a very new service - only three-week-old. New and original content received phenomenal response. So, how much of the growth should be genuinely attributed to the current situation versus the fact that the content is working is anyone’s guess."

On the other hand,  Zulfiqar Khan, MD, HOOQ India thinks that this is not an ideal way for anyone to look at numbers. In these unfortunate circumstances people are spending more time at home and this is only bound to increase in the coming days. “With more families spending time together, we have certainly seen a spike in the subscriber base with the audience wanting quality entertainment within their own walls,” he added.

According to data by KPMG released in September 2019, Indian OTT viewers spent approximately 70 mins/day on online video platforms, with a consumption frequency of 12.5 times a week i.e. more than once a day. In the current context, these numbers are headed Northward.

Zubin Dubash, COO Digital, Shemaroo Entertainment echoed that ShemarooMe has too seen good engagement rate attributing it to the 15,000+ hours of multi-genre, multi-regional content on the platform.

Being ‘On-Demand’

Internationally we have seen prepone-ment of digital premieres of movies such as Frozen 2, cutting down the one month window between theatrical and online launches. Back home as a part of COVID-19 OTT content plan we are seeing an expansion of content libraries with each player battling to offer a differentiated offering.

“Globally we have pushed our upcoming theatrical releases of Spiral, Run & Antebellum. We are encouraging everyone to work from home and using technology to get work done as much as possible. Having said this, its business, as usual,” commented Rohit Jain, Managing Director, Lionsgate India.

The platform is working with its streaming partners closely to identify if there are any need gaps that it can help address. Jain admits that these are really testing times for every business.

Lionsgate Play is increasing its investments in dubbing more content in Indian languages to increases relevance for audiences across the country and taking world-class cinema across tier II and tier III cities.

Also Read: Expert View: The COVID-19 Impact on AdSpends

HOOQ India claims to have been working consistently to bring in best in content like Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Joker, The Matrix, and Wonder Woman.

Further ShemarooMe is gearing up with Bollywood Premieres, Classical Cinema, Dramas, regional and devotional content for families.

Recently, Eros Now announced the launch of ‘Eros Now Prime’ as part of the expansion of its content strategy and stroked a strategic multi-year deal with NBCUniversal International Distribution. As part of this agreement, Eros Now subscribers in South Asia will have access to some of the most talked-about series from NBCUniversal, in addition to the existing Eros Now library, which is comprised of over 12,000 movie titles, original shows, and music, as well as short-format content through Quickie, Eros’s short-format video content offering.

Also, NBCUniversal TV titles will soon be available on the premium OTT platform for viewers to choose from: comedies such as the reboot of the critically acclaimed Will & Grace and Four Weddings and a Funeral; dramas such as New Amsterdam, Belgravia, Devils and Alessandro Borghi (“The First King: Birth of an Empire”); and Catherine the Great starring Helen Mirren. Viewers will also be able to enjoy dramas such as Suits, Pearson, the spinoff of Suits; Temple; Bluff City Law and Council of Dads.

The platform has also launched a global campaign, #Staysafe, wherein consumers can access 2 months of free Eros Now subscription by using STAYSAFE code if users subscribe prior to 31 March, 2020.

With original shows on the block including titles such as Dil Hi Toh Hai, Class Of 2020, Mentalhood, Code M and Ghar Ka Khana, ALTBalaji has also suited up to meet the increasing demand. Meanwhile, for Voot Select, the launch of two original shows so far, 3 Hindi originals and 5 regional shows shot and ready for release, Voot Select will also be playing a host to international content which will be premiered in India.

Many platforms including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar, MX Player and many others have switched on the ‘Data Saver Mode’ to reduce broadband strain on infrastructure across the country- a practice that originated overseas. Content will now only be available only in SD (standard definition) and not higher quality HD (high definition). These measures will be in effect until 14 April.

OTT players are trying to make the best out of the situations - for themselves as well as the audience, who finds solace and distraction in content, during such time of uncertainty.

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