How streaming services, e-book publishers are helping people cope with lockdown
As cities and states strengthen their lockdowns to prevent the spread of Covid-19, people have been relying on virtual entertainment as a distraction.Updated: Mar 25, 2020 17:28 IST
What happens when over a billion people are forced to stay at home? As cities and states strengthen their lockdowns to prevent the spread of Covid-19, people have been relying on virtual entertainment as a distraction. It has kept streaming services, e-book publishers and entertainment providers busy– each stepping up their game with fresh content and low-data transmission.
On Prime Video, Amazon has made a selection of kids’ and family-oriented TV shows and films available free of cost for all customers, regardless of whether they have subscribed to it. These include early seasons of Peppa Pig, and animated series based on Bahubali and Tenali Raman.
On Prime Video, Amazon will also release Hindi-dubbed Oscar-winning film Parasite with English subtitles on Friday. Other shows up for release in the coming weeks include the unscripted fashion series Making the Cut, and recent regional-language theatrical hits such as Mafia: Chapter 1 (Tamil), Gauthamante Radham (Malayalam), Ik Sandhu Hunda Si (Punjabi), Madha (Telugu), and Bonus (Marathi).
To reduce strain on internet infrastructure, the service has also begun reducing streaming bitrates in India, as has Zee5 video on demand website.
Netflix has reduced traffic on telecommunications networks by 25%, said Ken Florance, the American media-services provider’s VP of content delivery.
Eros Now is offering a free two-month subscription to its catalogue of Hindi, Tamil, Punjabi, Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Gujarati and Bengali films.
E-book publisher Juggernaut opened up its entire catalogue last week, allowing readers to access their award-winning non-fiction books on their app for free. This Friday, Juggernaut will also host an online literary festival, featuring conversations, workshops, competitions and masterclasses with top authors.
Audiobook firm Audible’s free service Audible Stories aim to keep children and teens occupied through the lockdown. Free titles to listen to are available in six languages globally. “For as long as schools are closed, we are open,” the company said in a statement.
Suno, Audible’s India brand for spoken-word material, has offered free audio streaming of inspirational shows based on yoga, mental , and women’s health.
Kavita Rajwade, the co-founder of the podcast company IVM, said while the lockdown is an essential move to check the pandemic, it is also a “magic moment” for content creators to address a captive audience of one billion. “When you are tired of screen time, a voice in your ear can create a bubble of privacy, even in your own home,” she said.
IVM has recorded a boost in listenership over the past week, and has been flooded with messages from new and old listeners.
All podcasts are free, and of their four new shows, two seem just right for the moment. Actor Ashish Vidyarthi hosts Dreams, a show about following one’s passions. Smile India features short-format episodes about feel-good news in Hindi and English.