How OTT Corp Comm teams are keeping up with increased demand during lockdown

Industry players say the prime focus is on driving consumer outreach and introducing new content forms

e4m by Nafisa Shaheen
Published: Jun 4, 2020 8:40 AM  | 4 min read

Viewership of OTT platforms has been on a high owing to the lack of outdoor entertainment options and a dearth of fresh content on Television owing to the lockdown and other COVID-19 restriction.

Data from the 9th Edition of BARC-Nielsen report backs the growth story of OTT in India during the lockdown. The report says there has been 19% growth (from the last week of April to the second week of May) in streaming of original series. The figures further highlight how the COVID-19 period viewership has been strong across all segments of OTT with Live TV, movies and original series being on top on the viewers’ OTT itinerary with a jump of 4%, 27% and 50% respectively.

Another prominent player, ALTBalaji witnessed a strong uptake of digital subscriptions with an average of 17,000 subscriptions added per day post lockdown compared to an average of 10,600 in March 2020 pre lockdown, a growth of 60%.

The corporate communications teams of all these OTT platforms have been on their toes. Sonia Huria, Head - Corporate Marketing, Communications and Sustainability, Viacom18 said: “The Covid-19 crisis has had a mixed impact on India’s media and entertainment landscape, with OTT players thriving. Original programming on digital platforms has seen tremendous growth with more users opting to go the subscription route, leading to an increase in the adoption of premium offerings.”

On being asked about the increasing role of communication teams, she responded, “With pre-shot and ready originals as well as a vast library of English content, the focus for the communications team is to drive consumer outreach. For Voot and Voot Select, we have opted the route of focusing on influencer marketing, fan community engagement, reviews and a mix of earned traditional & digital media. With an increase in digital consumption, we are focusing on promoting our shows as well as diversifying to new content forms that are shot at home."

On ALTBalaji’s strategy to keep viewers engaged in a cluttered market, Divya Dixit, SVP, Marketing, Analytics and Direct Revenue, ALTBalaji said, “We have been consistently launching shows even amid the COVID phase; for starters, we launched a very Delhi style comedy-drama ‘Who’s Your Daddy’ featuring Rahul Dev and YouTuber Harsh Beniwal. The second season of our popular show Baarish opened to good reviews and strong numbers that features Sharman Joshi and Asha Negi in lead roles along with a cameo by legendary actor Jeetendra. Additionally, after two successful seasons, our show Kehne Ko Humsafar Hain has Season 3 is launching on June 6.”

According to Usha Thomas, CPRO, EORTV Media Pvt Ltd: “The longer the lockdown is in effect, the more profound and long-lasting will the changes be in consumers’ behaviour. Every medium is being tested in terms of the resilience of their services and their ability to innovate and adapt to changing consumer demand. With slashed marketing budgets, Public Relations (PR) is surely taking the lead to build brands and win over customers in the new normal environment.

"The pandemic has also presented an opportunity to help solve real challenges in business and society with positive and powerful storytelling. We assist the team at EORTV who will soon launch progressive, positive & inspiring content for LGBTQ and other hormonally challenged communities to best articulate their purpose and core proposition at a time when being authentic is paramount."

Kaushik Izardar, Executive Director, EORTV Media Pvt Ltd. says: “This coronavirus lockdown has brought about a paradigm shift in the entertainment industry with OTT platforms seizing most of the opportunity. This consumer-centric and digitally-driven industry is one of those sections of the entertainment world which has done extremely well even in the current situation.”

Izardar further said that amidst this lockdown period OTT platforms have taken the responsibility of satiating the increasing entertainment appetite of audiences. “Web shows have become an escape point for viewers to ward off the boredom of being confined within their homes. Besides, these platforms are also rendering a sigh of relief to producers and filmmakers by allowing them to keep the show business running and providing them with enormous reach even in these horrendous times.”

Well, the question arises if this trend is here to stay? With people staying at home and audiences having more time at their disposal, what will the scenario be post lockdown? Divya Dixit is hopeful when she says, “OTT content consumption has witnessed a steady growth throughout, and it will continue to do so, on its own. This situation though an anomaly will introduce a wider set of audiences to OTT, who we believe will continue the consumption. However, our focus remains on our long-term plan of creating unique narratives and relatable Indian originals for our masses.”

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