The Digital Age burgeons amidst COVID Crisis

Small things can have big impacts and COVID-19 has well proven that. The COVID – 19 pandemic has brought the world to a standstill. The pandemic has impacted everyone’s lives worldwide however the crisis has brought in opportunities too. While the lockdown has caused mass unemployment globally, many are still able to work from home, and for them everything has become digital.

Today, by virtue of the lockdown, people have more time downtime together and there is immense scope to binge-watch shows, watch movies or connect to the extended family and friends on video calls. A recent Nielsen report found that the rise in people staying put at home could potentially lead to an almost 60 percent increase in the amount of content they watch.

Social media platforms have billions of active users now. Needless to say, with social media being the only thread to connect to the outside world, people have embraced the transition into a largely digital age.

"India is experiencing a digital revolution that is triggering transformative developments in areas like e-payments, digital literacy, financial inclusion, geographic mapping, rural development, much more.

Digital economy is the new platform to transform India into an empowered society. Especially, the current pandemic has offered a testing ground if India is poised to take the “only digital mode” along with creating the awareness on certain security precautions is the need of the hour.

I really appreciate that the government is taking all measures to encourage people to go fully digital and I am certain that India will reach the target to create over $1 trillion of economic value from digital economy before 2025,” says Ramki Gaddipati- CTO & Co-Founder, Zeta.

Digital: The New Mainstream
With the amount of qualitative content in the digital space, there is something for everybody. Netflix, Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Zee5, ALTBalaji and Voot Select have been in the forefront to up their game. To cater to this increase in demand, some of these platforms have made a few of their shows free to watch and is further offering premium content including movies and the first episode of some of its original series for free.

As per research findings, the COVID experience might result in a long-term upward shift in the integration of digital technologies into everyday lives, with India's 'digital billion' trajectory likely to accelerate materially.

Tarun Katial, CEO, Zee5 India, says the platform has witnessed an 80 per cent increase in subscriptions and over 50 percent growth in time spent recently. Amazon Prime Video, meanwhile, has made some of the kids’ content on its platform free in India.

Viacom18's Voot Select, the latest entrant in the SVoD space, has reported a spike in subscriber numbers. Ferzad Palia, head, Voot Select, youth, music and English entertainment, Viacom18, says the uptake for the platform has been “almost three-times higher than estimated”.

Music streaming platform, Gaana, has observed a growth in traffic on the app over the last two weeks, particularly from tier 2 and 3 cities in the country. Reports suggest that the rapid expansion of on-demand video and music streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify are expected to cause the industry grow more digital. This growth is due to the continued strong performance of online advertisers, as consumers have transitioned to digital services.

The COVID crisis is further expected to bring in further behavioural shifts among consumers for instance, Hollywood studios are now looking to sell movies to streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime. India's film segment grew 12.2 per cent in 2018 driven by growth in digital/OTT rights.

The digital media and entertainment, including OTT, digital news, social media and gaming, was already ruling the market in the beginning of 2020 and now given the current pandemic situation is expected to grow more robust compared to other sectors. Also, popular video-led social platforms like Facebook and Instagram have recorded significant spikes in content consumption. The time spent by an average user has grown to four hours per day, compared to the earlier 1.5 hours.

While all other forms of digital media are ruling the status quo, virtual media too has seen an upsurge since the lockdown. WeChat Work, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Slack, have recorded tremendous growth considering video conferences, e-meetings and webinars. With popularizing of such virtual platforms, face to face meetings is now a thing of the past, replaced with skype calls and Google meet and digital interactions by means of social media.

As per research findings, the COVID experience might result in a long-term upward shift in the integration of digital technologies into everyday lives, with India’s ‘digital billion’ trajectory likely to accelerate materially."

It is clear that as lockdown progresses, people are becoming more suited to and adapted to their increasingly digital lives, but although it is likely that the virus will die down within the next 6 months, the post-COVID world would be entirely different from what we have known it to be!