How Covid-19 Increased Viewer's Appetite for OTT Content

So the landscape of content creation has changed but what exactly does it mean for OTT platforms like Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Zee5, AltBalaji, Voot Select, and more?

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By Priyadarshini Patwa


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Covid-19 pandemic outbreak changed life for everyone. On one hand, work from home became a new way of life, on another, many businesses came to a standstill.

The entertainment industry which started high saw a crippling blow. Call it the beginning of a dark era or end of the glorious movie-making era, coronavirus' impact is unprecedented. Out-of-home entertainment is reeling under the effects of lockdown and social distancing. So when we all got restricted in the vicinity of our homes- we turned towards OTT for entertainment.

Though OTT platforms were making a place for itself in the Indian market, the crisis gave a push that increased viewers' appetite for online content. The pandemic got India got to screens like never before.

According to the BARC-Nielsen study on Covid-19 and its impact on TV and smartphone landscape, the time spent on it during week 1 of the pandemic has increased by 1.5 hours, a gain of 6 percent. Breaking all the records was Prime Minister Narendra Modi 21-day lockdown announcement which was watched by 197 million viewers.

So the landscape of content creation has changed but what exactly does it mean for OTT platforms like Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Zee5, AltBalaji, Voot Select, and more?


Experts believe that OTT is going to become a go-to-mode for a lot of consumers now as outdoor entertainment isn't accessible and television channels except news have already run out of content.

"The unprecedented situation has caused a major shift in viewership trends across India within a short period. ZEE5 has witnessed an over 45% rise in paid viewers and subscriptions going over 80% during the lockdown. The viewing time has increased by over 50% with Daily Active Users (DAUs) and app downloads rising by 15% and 41% respectively. And the viewership on connected devices has also seen a 3X growth in this period. Our massive library of 1.25 lakh hours of content across genres and 12 languages has led to a substantial number of paid users subscribing to our platform," said Tarun Katial, CEO Zee5 India.


With technological innovations taking place everything is accessible on click around the globe effortlessly. As per recent reports, the last decade has seen a rise in video-on-demand (VOD) consumption with the year 2019 itself seeing a 140% increase in countries like India, Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, and South Korea. The number itself shows consumers' inclination towards online content.

"OTT content consumption has witnessed a steady growth throughout and will continue to do so, on its own. The lockdown period has indeed scaled up the OTT content consumption game and I believe now is the time for OTT platform players to sit back and rethink their content strategy. Though this growth is due to a phase right now, we believe this lockdown phase will act as a catalyst in changing the content consumption habits of the audience to some extent while making some of them the avid followers of original content," said Divya Dixit, Senior Vice President - Marketing, Direct Revenue & Analytics, ALTBalaji.


The OTT market has revolutionized the way content is created, distributed, and streamed. People constantly want a variety of content, and OTT caters to this demand magnificently with the perennial additions of varied content. The lockdown has led to more people inadvertently realizing the convenience of OTT, which has already created a shift in the way content is consumed on a day-to-day basis.

"In the present scenario, with more people across cities and ages becoming familiar with OTT, there is an added advantage for this sector's potential. The 24x7 availability of umpteen shows and movies and the easy to navigate interface has resulted in more viewers staying back and subscribing to our app. The fast-changing viewer sentiment and trends in streaming behaviors indicate that OTT is here to stay. This sector has remolded the entertainment industry and will continue to be ever-evolving due to the enormous potential for consumer-centric, customized content made easily available," said Katial.


The COVID-19 outbreak has brought the normal day-to-day functioning of the industry to a standstill and halted all the shoots for the time being. With no new episodes coming out, the challenge is to meet the daily entertainment needs of the consumers and offer them fresh content across the various genres.

"Our premium content, classic shows, Originals, and blockbuster Movies is meeting people need. There is a range of content available in Hindi, Korean, and other regional languages. Adapting to the current streaming needs and future as well, we have updated our app interface to make it more user-centric and user friendly. Moreover, the addition of multiple features has made navigation simpler and updated the recommendation engine which has made content discovery intuitive, thereby making the overall experience hyper-personalized," explains Katial.

OTT is giving viewers fresh and new content which is making them spend more and more time on online streaming applications. Explaining about the same Dixit said, "The world is definitely in an unfortunate situation right now with the pandemic outbreak. With this lockdown phase, the audience has more time at their disposal and ends up spending more quality time with family, completing household chores, and consuming content via OTT platforms. This has resulted in an increase in content consumption across geographies."

Priyadarshini Patwa

Entrepreneur Staff

Features Editor, Entrepreneur India

Priyadarshini Patwa is the Features Editors of Entrepreneur India and hosts an Instagram show every Friday named ‘Lighten Up’, about people from different walks of life and talk about their work and beyond. She handles the lifestyle, features, technology, entertainment segments and also is responsible for the Digital Covers. Previously she has worked with MensXP, a Times of India entity and Deccan Chronicle. 

She’s @Priyanka_Patwa on Twitter and @priyadarshinipatwa on Instagram.

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