Gurjit Singh
GM International Distribution and Content Sales,
Times Network (US)

COVID-19 and the changing media landscape

It is too early to understand the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on today’s media platforms.

For some, it could be an endgame with outlets around the globe getting affected. Others may emerge stronger, as a result of increased digital usage, subscriptions, revenue diversification, and wiped-out competition.

Whatever happens, it is sure that the industry will look very different on the other side of this crisis. Given all uncertainty, what do we know about the current media landscape?

In today’s time, media landscape continues to shift based on changing consumer behaviors, impacted supplies, and unpredictable economies.

Impact on advertisements

COVID has impacted paid advertisement and has shrunk the major chunk across some of the key industries like travel, tourism, event, and hospitality. Some of the industries are considerably impacted, while some have slowed drastically. This global situation has caused consumer behavior and habits to shift and change, as more and more people are staying indoors, and advertisers need to adapt to this.

Changing patterns in the advertising has seen a spike in the advertising spends, mediums such as streaming services, online digital ads and social media are seeing a growth due to an increase in consumer usage. Many advertisers are shifting funds to these formats from more traditional formats, such as OOH and cinema since these formats are targeted to public gatherings. Even radio is affected since many consumers are working from home and are no longer tuning-in during their daily commutes.

Although advertising spends have decreased considerably overall, analysts are still expecting to close this year with an increase in annual global media spend. Advertisers are expected to shift dollars into the last quarter of the year because of the festive season and holidays etc. Also, with elections in the US and key states in India, the political advertising has also seen some boost and ramped up across multiple mediums.

How is the TV doing?

With everyone indoors and long lockdowns across, people are surely watching a lot more of TV. Whether it is traditional linear TV or streaming services through device, people have been glued to their most favorite medium for keeping them engaged, informed, and entertained. Overall viewership of the TV is up, there are some areas worth calling out further:

  • The most significant viewership gains have been in news programming and news channels, people from across the globe want to be updated on the pandemic and this is happening across—on national, local, and cable channels.
  • Primetime has moved from only in the evening to morning and evenings. Many programs saw their highest audience counts of the year during the first weeks of COVID, and daily viewership levels have been up in the daypart.
  • The loss of live sports—the most reliable TV ratings generator over the years—was a big blow to the viewership. It is impossible to replace the viewers (and revenue) that cricket and NBA playoffs would have garnered.
  • More time at home means more baking and cooking, more organizing and more household projects—and more eyeballs on the cable networks with programming that aligns food networks, cooking channels, and DIY networks.
  • There has been a surge in viewership of streaming content through smart TVs or connected devices, as people are consuming up to nine more hours per week than usual during the pandemic by watching the shows they had missed or the new launches.
  • TV/movie streaming services top the list of paid subscriptions that viewers across the globe have considered adding since the outbreak, with some of the all-time favorite platforms showing the highest consideration.

Situation is changing every hour, and while the future is unknown it is important for us to stay up to date through various mediums and see how things are shaping up among the media landscape.

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