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Coronavirus outbreak: Are GECs and OTT platforms ready with contingency plans if the lockdown continues longer?

As production of television shows and films comes at a halt due to the coronavirus outbreak, BestMediaInfo.com finds out how broadcasters and OTT players are dealing with the crisis

As more and more people are staying indoors because of the outbreak of coronavirus or Covid-19, TV viewership is soaring. While this may sound like good news for the television industry, it entirely isn’t.

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As the nation comes to a halt to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the TV industry has started facing the shortage of new inventory because of a disruption in the content creation pipeline.

Production houses haven't been able to shoot new episodes for 10 days now and the situation is likely to be the same for the next couple of weeks. Though there is an increased audience, the channels are running out fresh content.

To fill the vacuum, the top broadcasters are either filling up the airtime with their movie library, re-telecast of popular shows and event properties.

Prathyusha Agarwal

“In such challenging times where social distancing is the need of the hour to curb the Covid-19 outbreak, people have to spend a significantly higher amount of time indoors. As a leading media and entertainment network, we see it as our duty to keep our consumers entertained and well informed, helping them sail through these tough times,” said Prathyusha Agarwal, Chief Consumer Officer, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd.

“Further enhancing the entertainment quotient for our viewers, special award properties and other engaging content have been lined up across our channels on weekends, ensuring our viewers continue to have an extraordinary entertainment experience,” she said.

The latest BARC data for the week ending March 13 shows that the consumption of television content has increased by over 40 million minutes over the previous week, a number anticipated to further rise in the coming weeks.

“We are witnessing the early signs of a consumption uptick with the average time spent on TV increasing sharply,” she added. 

Colors has, meanwhile, announced the return of Bigg Boss 13. The channel announced the return of the season through social media.

According to sources in the channel, reruns of season 13 will be placed in the ‘Mujhse shadi karoge’ slot from Monday. The source also said the channel currently has a good backing of content and will continue to entertain the masses.

In 2009, when production houses had gone on a strike, broadcasters had to telecast reruns of shows.

OTT platforms see opportunity to gain subscribers, offer free content

The OTT industry, though facing disruption in the content pipeline, has come up with attractive offers to get new customers.

Eros Now has made subscription free for two months by using a special code that appears on the application. However, users will have to subscribe to the app before March 31.

Ali Hussein

Ali Hussein, CEO, Eros Now, said, "In an era of social distancing and limiting exposure to the external world, consumers and viewers are turning to digital entertainment and Eros Now is playing its part. We have seen an increase of 200% in paid subscribers on a daily basis and App Annie shows a 78% increase in daily traffic on the platform. We have launched a global Eros Now #StaySafe campaign wherein consumers can access two months of free Eros Now subscription if you subscribe prior to March 31, 2020. We would like to wish the health and safety of all in these uncertain times."

With people sitting at home and binge-watching, the challenge OTT players now face is how they will continue to keep audiences glued.


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