OTT players see an uptick in viewership but are advertisers going where the eyeballs are?
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Will the current lockdown could lead to a gain for the digital streaming industry?

OTT players see an uptick in viewership but are advertisers going where the eyeballs are?

Will the current lockdown could lead to a gain for the digital streaming industry?
  • TV production has been curtailed and the networks can’t go out on programming pitches without their pilots for news shows. There is a limited newspaper printing and distribution, OOH has also become irrelevant in absence of traffic.
  • On the other hand, OTT is seeing an uptick in viewership, content consumption, and consumer engagement. So will this force advertisers to re-evaluate their ad spends and marketing strategy?
  • We speak to OTT players and digital experts to find out if the current lockdown could lead to a gain for the digital streaming industry.
As Maxwell Maltz’s research suggests, 21 days are enough to mold someone’s behaviour and form a habit. And from buying groceries to ordering a paracetamol, the lockdown has forced the entire nation to avail digital services. It has opened up an opportunity for Over-the-Top (OTT) platforms to rise to the situation and curate a seamless streaming experience for their consumers as they are quarantined 24x7.

To meet this increasing demand and reduce internet congestion, OTT players moved from HD (1080p & 720p) bitrate to SD (480p) last week until April 14. Apart from that, they are constantly renewing their homepage, trying to curate a wide content palette for their consumers and have launched advertising campaigns to create a buzz around their bundles.

According to Neilsen, OTT streaming is set to spike by 60% as consumers continue to stay put. And this shift of viewers in OTT has sprung up an amazing opportunity for advertisers to reallocate ad spends to reach their target audiences and fulfill campaign goals.

SpotX, a global video ad serving platform, revealed that increased OTT viewing has resulted in a 16% increase in OTT video ad inventory.

Over the last 7-10 days, MX Player has witnessed a 7X increase in time spent and engagement across genres. Its Daily Active Users (DAUs) have increased by over 40%.

MX Player’s Head of Revenue, Viraj Jit Singh's quarantine time hasn’t been smooth at all; he has been swamped with work and client calls.

Singh said, “Over the last week, we have been flooded with inquiries from clients and agencies on opportunities to advertise on our platform. While speaking with key decision makers across Brand and Advertising agencies, there has been a conscious effort to increase traction and evaluate OTT as a preferred platform to advertise on over the next 8 weeks. Budgets are being reallocated from Outdoors, Radio, Print and even TV as and when there is a drop in fresh content on channels soon.”

This increase in time-spent on MX Player is driven by both, old and new users. This change is true for all cities, towns and non-metros. A large pool of its users are between 18-24 years, which is a bait for clients. The streaming platform has seen old clients returning and is also attracting new ones.

“Brands have quickly understood this (change in viewership pattern), and we have seen multiple first-time advertisers from across client categories on our platform. Additionally, there are certain brands/categories that have increased their current budgets as well,” said Singh.

For Viacom18’s VOOT, the story isn’t much different, too. In the last 7-9 days, it has seen over a 20% rise in the average daily sessions that each user spends. The users are also frequenting the app at least five times a day and spending 60 to 70 minutes.

The streaming giant has seen this growth in Maharashtra (25%), NCR (20%), and Uttar Pradesh (30%); which mirrored the sequence of lock down regions.

On the back of these strong data points, Akash Banerji, Business Head – VOOT, Advertising Video Platform (AVoD) says OTT is the platform to be for advertisers amidst the lockdown.

Banerji said, “If there is a platform where advertisers can find their audiences today and reach out to them at scale and on a consistent basis, OTT video platforms are the only option available in the country. Everything else right now has pretty much no use because advertisers spending money on e-commerce platforms or display platforms have no value. People sitting at home, they have taken to OTT videos literally like a fish takes the water. It is the only place where the audiences are coming at scale and spending enough time. Having said that, we might see some upside for a short-time basis, but I truly pray that this scenario changes radically.”

Referring to App Annie’s latest release, Ali Hussein, CEO, Eros Now says the platform has seen upto 80% increase in daily traffic whilst other platforms have seen about 20% hike. Its daily subscriptions have also gone up by 200% in the last two weeks, as it has turned free for the next two months.

While Eros Now is a subscription-driven platform, drawing from his past experience of working with YouTube and Viacom18, Hussein said, “I think this is an interesting time that certain segments of brands that are otherwise using certain physical forms of advertising, especially outdoor and print, will look at ways of identifying the admission online because a lot of the consumption of infotainment, education and entertainment has moved to online forums. So this social distancing has kind of caused a potential change in consumer behaviour, which I believe at some level will become permanent over a certain period of time. This is the natural progression in terms of where the universe is headed. So I think a lot of brands will also look at altering the larger strategies in terms of what is the consumer cohort they want a message to and what's the right kind of platform, how to even use content as a means for messaging and communication.”

As an advertiser himself, who recently supervised an ad campaign during the outbreak of Coronavirus for its brand Rio, Kartik Johari, VP - Marketing & Commerce at Nobel Hygiene saw the performance of their advertisement going down as the situation worsened. He said that there is a need for brands to evolve with the situation and digital will definitely take prominence.

However, he said blogs are likely to perform better than OTT. To sail through these rough waters, he advises to be in touch with a brand's media partners every day.

Sharing the reason why, Johari said, “Blogs are underrated. People do like to consume quality information and now that people are trapped at home, that's the need of the hour. If you can write entertaining content for them, I think there is a large consumer base which can consume all of it. Traditionally, if I were to divert money on OTT and digital, I think the company has refrained from doing that because a lot of new OTT viewership also comes during commute, which has taken a hit; day-time OTT and in-home OTT usage has gone up so yeah, it's a mixed bag. So, you have to keep talking with all your agencies as well as your media partners every day. Keep a check on how the situation is evolving everyday.”

The viewership on OTT platforms is further bound to increase as the nationwide lockdown will continue until April 15.