As people are restricted to their homes, their genre of media preferences is changing. People are visiting news sites more often, especially websites which give statistics on the fluctuation in markets due to the pandemic, government data on latest number of coronavirus cases and so on. If the global pandemic lasts long, it has the potential to change the digital media industry for good. The Coronavirus disruption has disrupted the most disruptive industry of the economy. Telecommunication carriers, programming services and data hosting services are under unprecedented stress due to unprecedented demand.
Thanks to Coronavirus, India has gone into a binge-watch mode. According to a recent report by Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India and Nielsen, TV viewing minutes per week has escalated by 8 per cent during the recent week compared to the pre-Covid-19 period. The time spent on smartphones per user has gone up by 6.2 percent.TV and smartphones are the gateway to “virtual socialization”, that is, connecting and interacting with people through digital media platforms. However, it is the Over-the-top (OTT) media services which has made self-quarantine bearable for many people and has made the maximum profit out of the self-quarantine period. OTTs such as Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Zee5 has seen an unprecedented rise in consumption.
Market research firm Nielsen said social media usage rose by 50 times between January and March in India in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic. Dolly Jha (Country Leader-Nielsen Global Media, South Asia) has commented that there has been an almost 20 per cent increase in time spent per user on chats, social media and news in the last one week.
In China, after the country implemented nationwide isolation measures, average weekly downloads of apps during the first two weeks of February increased by 40% in comparison to the average for the whole of 2019, according to the Financial Times. In the same month, weekly game downloads on Apple devices were up by 80% versus 2019.
It is clear that COVID-19 has meant a rise in digital media consumption. But what will be the ramifications of the crisis on the digital media industry in the long run?
Disruption in the media industry will depend on a lot of factors: How long will the epidemic last? Will the media industry change the content and form of its products?
The physical support system and the logistics behind the existence of digital media products are at a major risk and a longer crisis might cause permanent damage to what holds the media business together – Capturing Live events. Will Amazon Prime Video be as attractive if there are no new movies coming up in its library?
Will sporting events remain as popular with the media if sports stadiums stay closed for a long period of time? Recently, Comscore has studied the impact of COVID 19 crisis on digital media consumption in India. The disruption of sports events was reflected in a decrease in reach of, and engagement with, sports websites or sports mobile apps. The sharpest decline occurred during the March 16-22, 2020 week: compared with March 9-15, 2020, visits to sports websites and mobile apps declined by 76%; total minutes spent on sports-based media declined by 87%.
The Comscore data reveals a change in popularity of various news categories in India during the COVID-19 Lockdown. For instance, there has been a sharp rise in visits to websites related to healthcare. According to the data, visitation to “Healthcare Retail Sites” increased by 146% from Feb. 10-16 to March 16-22, 2020.
An important factor that will determine the future of the media industry in the Post-COVID 19 World is the amount and kind of diversification the industry does. An example of the need for diversification is the decline in the revenue generated from print media and archived online news. With the current crisis shaking the world population, people want live updates on the current global pandemic, which means that media needs to prepare a model to capture live events without the physical operative system to back it up.
Manjima Misra is the author of two books: Unapologetically Mad and Indian Feminine Fury. She has studied English literature at University of Delhi and will be pursuing her masters in gender studies
Stay updated with all the insights.
Navigate news, 1 email day.
Subscribe to Qrius