According to McKinsey’s survey on ‘Consumer Sentiment During the Coronavirus Crisis’, consumers have intensified their behaviour for online streaming like never before. With over 40% of respondents have stated they have been streaming videos online much more since the pandemic started in March. Consumers are identifying online streaming services to keep themselves informed, stay connected with the world and most importantly killing leisure time to decompress the stress of the new reality. This in turn has led to overwhelming adoption of at-home-entertainment services across the globe in the last few months.


Consumers revealing changing streaming behaviour opens up a series of opportunities for marketers to strategically reach out to their consumers with more relevance and context. With consumers indulging on streaming movies, TV shows and consuming informational content on news outlets and social media, aligning media and communications accordingly becomes imperative for brands. This blog covers the streaming behaviour of consumers across the globe and ways how marketers can leverage the trends and insights to recraft their marketing strategies.

1.  Increased viewer appetite for OTT content

As out-of-home entertainment options reel under the effects of lockdown and social distancing, consumers are exploring online streaming as entertainment options as shelter-in-place orders keep them home. Over-the-top (OTT) platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney Plus and many more have started witnessing rapid rise in numbers, instilling a sense of optimism regarding the future of the industry. According to a report by Reuters, Netflix’s global total has reached 182.9 million from January to March, with the audience bingeing on shows like Love and Blind, and Money Heist.

As per research conducted by KPMG, there has been a secular rise in OTT consumption in duration, and across demographics and devices. As production of content comes to a stand still,the content pipeline for users has completely dried up, opening up a series of opportunities for OTT to leverage their existing content libraries and reach out for potential content acquisitions. In the wake of the crisis, many of the OTT players are offering extended free periods to consumers in order to acquire more consumers and drive subscriptions.


2. Loss of live sports leads consumer to shift focus to escapist content

During the pre-COVID times, one of the highest contributing categories to streaming businesses was Sports. With major leagues and sports tournaments across the globe in abeyance owing to the outbreak, consumers are shifting to escapist content such as classics, tournament highlights, match moments, esports, video games to keep themselves clued-in with sports. Users are now taking out time to indulge into the classics or reruns of their favourite leagues or moments from a particular match. In the absence of any live matches, sports broadcasters across platforms are now providing greater access to these classics to keep fans engaged.

Consumers are exploring sports libraries on OTT platforms, catching up on documentaries or movies of their favourite sports personalities. Many fans are taking out time to explore newer games like hockey, volleyball, table tennis etc. Some countries are also embracing broadcasting and streaming of homegrown sports leagues. In the past few months, India has seen the rise of homegrown sports like Kabbadi, Kho-Kho and many more.

3. Consumers shift from traditional cable TV to on-demand experience connected TV

While people are cooped up in their homes, connected TV offers great value when it comes to consuming content from plethora of genres and categories on a single platform. From turning on the news continuously in order to stay updated to watching the latest sitcom for decompressing the stress of the new reality, inflated house-bound bingeing has catapulted connected TV to the limelight.

4. Consumers embrace social media video content to stay informed and connected

As more viewers stay at home, social media is enabling them to stay connected with friends and families. Social media is equally facilitating consumers to stay informed on both global and local level, providing up-to-the-minute information that is critical as the situation develops. Increasingly viewers are turning into Facebook and YouTube to consume news videos covering restrictions, cases and health related guidelines owing to the pandemic. According to Conviva’s new report ‘Streaming in the time of Coronavirus’, views on local news outlets on Facebook went up by 247% in March as compared to February and an average increase of 118% in views per video.

Twitter observed an uplift of 196% in average engagement per video and 63% increase in overall engagement with local news accounts. Twitter also tailed a 150% increase in average engagement per video for global news accounts. A recent article by PMG partner insights reveals almost 10M search queries are generated and billions of views are captured on YouTube videos related to Covid19 authoritative news coverage every day across the globe.


5. Streaming to TVs has more than doubled during the pandemic

With consumers asked to refrain from social gatherings and shelter-in-place at home on account of the outbreak, media consumption on TV has boomed significantly across the globe. Brian Fuhrer, SVP Product Strategy at Nielsen, says that on April 4 Americans watched 27 billion minutes of streaming content on TV — 50,000 years of content in just one day — versus about 70 billion per week a year ago. At the time of crisis, viewership on TV booms as consumers ramp up media consumption to stay informed and kill time. In the US, consumers sheltering-in-place at home during crises, gravitate towards watching feature films, news and general format programming, according to the research firm, Nielsen.

In India, TV consumption grew by 38% over the pre-COVID period with the news genre being the biggest gainer with 57% increase in consumption across languages. This is followed by vernacular language channels that are rerunning old classic movies and shows. Hindi GEC attained an all time high viewership of four billion since 2015 in HSM (Hindi Speaking Market) Urban. Resurgence of English movies category was another trend spotted, showcasing an 83 per cent growth in the lockdown period.

What It Means to Marketers

Looking at how streaming trends for consumers are changing as lockdowns continue and the world leans into social distancing, brands are continuously seeking options to capitalize on evolving opportunities. Leveraging inventories on Ad-supported Video On-Demand (AVOD) platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Broadcast Network Sites, is crucial for all advertisers at this time considering the engagement rates are the highest. Brands must embrace partnerships and co-branding with Subscription Video On-Demand platforms (SVOD) platforms, considering high levels of consumer stickiness with the various categories of content that they provide. This opens up opportunities for brands to stay relevant during the time of uncertainty.