OTT platforms witness huge jump in traffic as cinema halls remain shut amid lockdown

Updated on Apr 06, 2020 11:55 PM IST
Web shows have become the best tool for people to ward off boredom during this ongoing lockdown, and the OTT platforms are also ensuring that the audience is spoilt for choice.
A still from Contagion (based on a fictional virus pandemic), is among the top watched films on Amazon Prime.
A still from Contagion (based on a fictional virus pandemic), is among the top watched films on Amazon Prime.
ByJuhi Chakraborty and Rishabh Suri

Staying in is most of us are doing amid this pandemic situation. And naturally, the more we stay at home, the more we find ourselves glued to the screens. Now, with no film releases in sight because of the shutdown of theatres and shoot of TV shows stalled across the country, what everyone is finding solace in are the OTT platforms. In fact, web shows have become the best tool for people to ward off boredom, and the platforms, too, are ensuring that the audience is spoilt for choice.


The web, in times of no new films or TV shows, have seen a drastic spike in their traffic. Tarun Katial, CEO, ZEE5 India confirms, “We’ve seen a spike across key metros, as audiences continue to consume a wide variety of content in 12 languages. Interestingly, we’ve seen a significant jump in the consumption on connected devices, too, and this could be because people are working from home.”

Neeraj Roy, Founder & CEO, Hungama Digital Media, shares that since the beginning of March, they’ve seen an increase of over 20% in viewership on Hungama Play. While this trend started in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, as people across cities start limiting their social interactions, they’re also beginning to notice this spike in other cities.


“Further, being at home 24/7 has had a visible impact on consumption hours as well. Instead of peaking between 8-10 in the morning,consumption now remains high till 11.30. Likewise, consumption goes up during lunch hours. At night, instead of the usual 8pm to midnight, consumption now starts peaking at 6pm itself,” he informs.

Ali Hussein, CEO, Eros Now, on the increase in platform’s engagement during the current lockdown situation, says, “In the era of social distancing, consumers are turning to forms of digital entertainment. We’ve seen an increase of 200% in paid subscribers on a daily basis and App Annie shows a 78% increase in daily traffic.”


With so much ‘spare’ time at hand, OTT content on varied themes has found acceptance. Ferzad Palia, Head- Voot Select, Youth, Music & English Entertainment Viacom18 says their new shows are already trending. “Our growth can’t be attributed to increased consumption alone… new, original content like Asur and Marzi have received phenomenal response from the audience.”


Interestingly,apart from recent films such as Chhapaak, Tanhaji (both on Hotstar), and Street Dancer 3D (on Amazon Prime), doomsday films such as Contagion (based on a fictional virus pandemic), Zombieland: Double Tap and the documentary Pandemic: How To Prevent An Outbreak now figure among the top watched films on their respective streaming platforms. On Netflix again, films such as Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, a sci-fi movie in which humanity is wiped out because of a T-Virus outbreak is on top besides filmmaker Imtiaz Ali’s SHE, a web show, is trending at Number 1. 

Director Neeraj Pandey, whose show Special OPS has received rave reviews upon its release on Hotstar on March 17, says that it’s all about the content and the timing of the release doesn’t matter. “If the content is good, people will see it whenever they have time. As a story-teller, you’re essentially working for the audience, and want to have a wider base.”


Neeraj Roy further reveals that videos across various formats are being watched widely. “Recently launched, Damaged 2 and Kashmakash, or even the ones we launched earlier like Bar Code and Damaged, are witnessing a spike in streaming. Short-format videos across categories like humour, entertainment, health etc. are also being consumed,” he says.

Mentalhood on ALTBalaji is again a trending show, and its actor Dino Morea says, “We came at a probably good time when everyone is binge watching stuff, and ours is very a top rated show. Glad that people are watching it.”


And there’s no stopping these OTT platforms as they continue to churn out new content even in these times.

ALTBalaji has three new offerings — Who’s Your Daddy: Baarish- Season 2 and XXX UNCENSORED S2.

“The main objective of our community service campaign #StayALT is to encourage everyone to follow the precautionary directives, while keeping them engaged with a wide variety of interesting content,” shares Divya Dixit, SVP, Marketing, Analytics & Direct Revenue at ALTBalaji.

Amazon has made a selection of kids and family content available free to watch on Prime Video, and will also release Four More Shots Please! Season 2 on April 17. Netflix, meanwhile has one of its most popular shows, Money Heist’s season 4 lined up for a release on April 3.

OTT platforms asked to lower streaming quality to reduce internet overload

Industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) had written to the telecom department and OTT companies to lower the streaming resolution to reduce the burden on the networks in the wake of people staying at home due to the coronavirus outbreak. “During this critical time, it’s essential to cooperate with TSPs to manage traffic distribution patterns which are likely to strain network infrastructure at a time when it is needed for various critical requirements,” COAI’s official letter read.

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