Rise of OTT Platforms in Wake of COVID-19

This blog is inscribed by Amri Gupta.

The impact of the pandemic is seven times greater than 2008’s financial crisis. Some sectors have faced a brunt of this pandemic while for others it served as a hot iron which can be struck at multiple points suiting to their profit. People are stuck indoors, traffic has lost its existence since lockdown and recovery is expected in the condition of Mother Earth. Social distancing caused human beings to get closer to social media and entertainment.

The outdoor entertainment industry is facing the blow of COVID-19 whereas OTT platforms are witnessing a remarkable increase in terms of audience and income. The term OTT refers to over-the-top media service in which the content is not delivered through a traditional cable/ broadband provider but via internet connection. 

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

~Buckminster Fuller

The consumer’s inclination towards these platforms is increasing day by day and the pandemic acted as a catalyst. YouTube, for the first time, provided its consumers with audio-video content which can be controlled by consumers itself. Since then, people’s interest has shifted from television to their smartphones.

Easy accessibility of content in various languages and for various age-groups, low-cost prices of the internet have attracted people to these platforms and it is evident by an increase of 198% in OTT traffic in April 2020. The government’s mandate of lockdown has worked as a fuel to the fire. (1)

Change In Viewing Landscape:

Publicis Report India depicts the rise of 34 per cent in OTT traffic. Since, last decade there has been a rise in demand for video-on-demand (VOD) consumption as  2019 witnessed a 140% increase in countries like- Australia, South Korea, India. Further, as revealed by Tara Katial, CEO of Zee 5 India there is an increase of 50% in viewing time and a 15% increase is estimated from Daily Active Users (DAUs). The 24×7 content availability and easy navigations have made people get stuck with a particular OTT platform. (2)

Further, the time spent on smartphones and TV is increased by 6 per cent in the first week of the pandemic as depicted in the study of BARC-Nielsen. The announcement of 21 days lockdown by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had 197 million viewers. (3

OTT market has changed the availability and distribution of content. Amidst lockdown, various OTT platforms have increased their subscription rates in order to gain views. Additionally, a huge variety of content makes a viewer not to get stuck to the screen. Global Web Index claimed in its report that India’s streaming market is one of the fastest and biggest growth in the world with platforms like Voot, ZEE 5, MX Player. The country’s market is expected to grow to $2.4 billion by 2023 and OTT industry will have the highest growth. (4)

Change In Content Availability:

Release of various movies is postponed but OTT platforms have held their clutches over these films release too, example:- a biopic of Shakuntala Devi starring Vidya Balan will be premiered on Amazon Prime Videos, further, the tactics like free subscription as offered by Eros Now for two months is also effective in generating crowd. The consumption of digital content has increased to 80 per cent and on average an increase of 70 to 100 per cent is observed.  ALT Balaji has witnessed an increase of 5 per cent across the industry. Some OTT owners say that rise in consumption level will be back to a normal level as lockdown ease and people get back to usual work. Until then, users will use OTT platforms for their entertainment needs. (5)

What OTT Platforms Are Focusing On?

OTT audio-based platforms in India operate on three types of models for monetary gain. Besides the ad-based model and bundled model, the main focus is on the subscription-based model to increase revenue as it constitutes only one per cent of total user base while most of the income comes from the in-app advertisement. Platforms are focussing to put forth original content to increase the percentage of paid viewers i.e. subscribers.

The subscription-based model will multiply its revenue by 80 times as compared to advertisements. Further, a report depicted that 62 per cent of people are willing to opt for a subscription model by paying for it. A report by RedSeer said that the proportion of paid viewers should be increased by 6% to become more profitable.  It is also predicted that OTT platforms might sell tickets or merchandise from their platforms to extract more revenue. (6)

Another reason which can be traced out is pricing, some platforms let the customers avail of their content at zero cost while others like Netflix have a process of subscription on a monthly or annual basis.

Are OTT Platforms Completely Safe to Use?

Though many OTT platforms adopted various measures to protect consumers’ data. For example, EU member states carry out transactions privacy for its citizens. Yet it needs greater advancements when it comes to piracy issues and illegal streaming. There are concerns about piracy in live streaming. Analysts estimated that there was an illegal sale of videos worth $9.1 billion in 2019 and it can hit the mark of $12.5 billion by 2024.(7)

OTT players are finding it difficult to deal with these issues. In today’s scenario, the content can be stolen by pirates from anywhere and can be redistributed via the internet. And, because the mode of streaming is illegal it is used by such software which can hide their work easily. Nowadays, it is easy to stream content from anywhere but it is also easy for pirates to steal that content. Further, a combination of money and accessibility adds to the ability of a hacker to test millions of username-password combinations. (8)

Upcoming Scenario:

A dramatic change is being observed in consumer behaviour. Exponential growth is observed when it comes to consumption of content via the internet. These one-tap-indoor-entertainment services are gaining a huge chunk of viewers because of easy access followed by the advanced programming that enables users not to search for the content rather than a list of recommendations gets displayed which keep the viewers engaged on these platforms. The outbreak has worked as an amplifier and is used by multiple OTT players to earn more money. Gradually, it is becoming a habitual activity of our daily lives. This setup might provide as a psychological barrier for us to accept external models of entertainment consumption and it might lead a road to innovation as consumers will turn to virtual events and find different models to connect which will be accompanied by technological advancements.

Further, piracy issues might witness an increment as most of the people are ready to use OTT platforms ignoring piracy concerns which can be combated by designing of data protection methods followed by formulation, implementation and mitigation of the concerned issues.

This action can be achieved by a systematic configuration of programs, communications and processes rather than a solution made in a haphazard manner. In addition to this, a proactive approach is required to extend the issues of data privacy, confidentiality and security in OTT agreements of distribution, thereby, satisfying advocates and regulators of privacy when they scrutinize OTT platforms.

In sum and substance, an analytical and comprehensive approach is required to mitigate the issue of piracy, thereby, making the platform an asset to a business and not a liability.


  1. https://www.prnewswire.com/in/news-releases/covid-19-update-global-ott-services-market-is-projected-to-reach-us-67-76-bn-by-2023-and-is-expected-grow-at-a-cagr-of-14-55-over-the-forecast-period-2019-2027-says-absolute-markets-insights-883285551.html
  2. https://www.entrepreneur.com/amphtml/350318
  3. Ibid.
  4. https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/entertainment-news-covid-19-lockdown-unprecedented-boom-in-ott-market-cinema-halls-take-backseat/352903
  5. Ibid.
  6. https://brandequity.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/digital/covid-19-to-help-ott-audio-platforms-increase-revenue/74857710
  7. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200520005350/en/Global-OTT-Streaming-Market-2020-2030–
  8. https://www.ibc.org/trends/piracy-how-broadcasters-are-confronting-the-threat-/3744.article

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