OTT Services in the Post Pandemic World: An Overview of the Key Trends
The pandemic has changed our approach to life. While virtual or remote work has emerged as a new normal across sectors, several legacy business operations have had an uphill task for mere survival amidst the global lockdowns.
With the world oscillating between periodic ‘lockdowns’ and ‘unlocks,’ it is no surprise that our social lives and entertainment needs have moved online. As a result, over the top (OTT) services worldwide have registered a phenomenal growth, with subscriptions rising 60% in India alone. As uncertainty continues to loom on the direction of the pandemic, we take a quick look at the key trends and emerging realignments that are emerging in the space.
Media and Entertainment
OTT media is a streaming service offered directly to the individual consumer through the internet, bypassing the legacy cable and satellite companies that distribute content. With the internet emerging as the main medium of connection in the post pandemic world, rising from 40% to 100% usage during the period, it is no surprise that the demand for OTT media and entertainment has registered a concomitant and significant rise.
The widespread lockdowns have further contributed to a growing realization among the consumers on the potential of OTT media services, further strengthening its capabilities in shaping what content is consumed on a day-to-day basis. By leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Analytics, the media companies have also helped unlock additional value for their individual viewers by providing personalized content recommendations and targeted advertisements.
With the rise of cross-platform smart voice assistants ensuring the creation of a smart home ecosystem within the homes of the consumers, the transitions underway in the media and entertainment space enable customer friendly easy content search with voice commands through Smart OTT Platforms will enhance customer experience by every passing day.
The impact of the pandemic can perhaps best be summed up by the fact that the quadrennial Olympic Games, initially scheduled for 2020, had to be moved to 2021, an unprecedented scenario in its 127+ year history. Globally, not just the Olympics, but several other sporting events had either to be rescheduled, canceled midway, or abandoned altogether. The revenue impact from ;lost sponsorships and ticket sales was significant.
However, the availability and the growing reach of OTT platforms has proved to be a major enabler in this direction. The transition to an e-sports model not only has helped several major leagues restart their activities but has also helped them gain several millions in new viewership across the world. Smart AI-based recommendations have delivered new content to the individual consumers, while ensuring a whole new immersive viewing experience. The transition is underscored by a recent survey, where 63% of all sports enthusiasts appeared willing to spend on an OTT subscription to follow their sporting interest.
As new technology like Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) and 5G, continues to transform experiences in this space, we can even perhaps look forward to interactive e-sports events, where the experience of being present live in the stadium would be transported to the viewer’s drawing rooms.
Following the rise of the pandemic, one of the hardest hit segments have been the educational institutions. While some of them have been forced to move to an old-fashioned, correspondence model leveraging emails and online meeting places, several of the technologically inclined ones have chosen to move towards an OTT-based environment.
The video-on-demand services provided by the OTT platforms have emerged as a key differentiator in the post pandemic education space, with a growing preference amongst the student community for leveraging interactive classroom sessions and tutorials on-demand. By offering the flexibility of a real-life school setup, OTT services are therefore now being seen as the key driver for the “School in the Cloud” concept, with a growing acceptance amongst both students and school administrators.
Health and Fitness
With homebound people looking top connect with their fitness regime, OTT services have ,proven their worth through innovative and customized offerings like ‘Connected Digital Gym’ and ‘Medicine in the Cloud.’ While the former allows the end-user to connect directly with their chosen fitness instructor and leverage the VR Treadmill with changeable background 3D city maps for immersive experience with IOT-enabled devices measuring fitness parameters, the later makes possible accurate home diagnosis through smart video conferencing.
The Way to the Future
The global OTT market, valued at just a little over $85 billion in 2019, is expected to surpass $194 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 13.87%. The global pandemic, while a bane for several legacy businesses, has proved to be a boon here, and the resultant shift in the consumer behavior is expected to hold and strengthen over the projection period.
However, the OTT companies need to realize that the consumer is always looking for a better alternative, and there is no room for complacency as the level of competition in the space will continue to be high. It would be interesting to track how the current players retain their positions in the face of the challenge from their emerging rivals, especially the ones that leverage the latest in digital technologies.