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Net traffic surges during coronavirus lockdown, but video streaming cos may need new content to gain users


Written by Pranav Mukul
| New Delhi |

Published: March 31, 2020 2:08:23 am


coronavirus, coronavirus lockdown, coronavirus india, coronavirus india impact, Covid-19, broadband usage India during coronavirus, India lockdown, internet consumption during coronavirus in India, internet speeds, coronavirus work from home, coronavirus impact, covid-19 virus, indian express Notably, experts have pointed out that originally produced content and release of new titles is what traditionally drives growth for these platforms.(Image credit: Pixabay.com)

A total lockdown that has impacted most segments of the economy and the workforce, in addition to confining people to their respective homes, has proven to be bittersweet for video streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, etc. On the one hand, most of these platforms are witnessing a massive surge in traffic, on the other, a closure across the globe is likely to affect rollout of new movie and series titles on these services. Notably, experts have pointed out that originally produced content and release of new titles is what traditionally drives growth for these platforms.

“Premium, original content remains one of the biggest drivers and differentiators in the OTT (over-the-top) space with a plethora of OTT platforms competing for consumers’ attention. OTT players are investing heavily in acquiring or developing new content, new services and improved experiences,” a recent report on the media and entertainment sector by FICCI and EY noted.

According to a research note by Bank of America (BofA) Securities, app downloads of Zee5, Amazon Prime and Netflix showed a strong spike in March “as consumers look to watch content when being locked at home”.

However, similar traction was not witnessed by Hotstar, which is the mainstay for online viewing of sports events — most of which have been suspended across the globe because of COVID-19 outbreak. Hotstar also recently deferred the launch of Disney’s premium portfolio under the Disney+ brand, which would have added hours of new streamable content to Hotstar’s current library. “While Disney+ launch (expected to on 29th Mar with start of IPL) has been pushed back, we see competition picking up with the app launch given its appealing family content. Ideally, a lockdown like this could be good time to launch Disney+ as it would gain instant traction,” BofA Securities noted.

“A potential cancellation of IPL creates a huge opportunity loss for Hotstar which brings huge traction on the platform every year — some of which should be overcome on back of increased viewership due to more people watching content as they stay at home. Last year, Hotstar saw 20 million+ viewers on its platform in a single day on the day of IPL final and 300 million viewers during the season,” the research report added.

Even before the 21-day lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a number of film production houses suspended their activities as state governments were clamping down on multiplexes and movie theatres across the country.

The FICCI-EY report said that Netflix is expected to invest Rs 3,000 crore in 2019 and 2020 towards content in India “to license and create over 50 originals and shoot across more than 20 cities”. It also noted that in 2019, over 1,600 hours of original content were created for OTT platforms , which led to increased demand.

Here’s a quick Coronavirus guide from Express Explained to keep you updated: What can cause a COVID-19 patient to relapse after recovery? | COVID-19 lockdown has cleaned up the air, but this may not be good news. Here’s why | Can alternative medicine work against the coronavirus? | A five-minute test for COVID-19 has been readied, India may get it too | How India is building up defence during lockdown | Why only a fraction of those with coronavirus suffer acutely | How do healthcare workers protect themselves from getting infected? | What does it take to set up isolation wards?

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Updated: March 30, 2020 — 9:34 pm

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