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The change in the audience theorem

Living in the generation where society and social gatherings play a major role in people’s life, COVID turned the tables making the year 2020 to be remembered as a standstill era for generations to come. The current generation will never forget the halt and caged indoors they saw in the current times, though it helped the environment heal.

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The biggest rescuer during these times was the entertainment industry. Did we ever imagine that we will watch Ramayan, Mahabharat, Krishna again with our kids? With them taking a keen interest in these. But, given the constraint to remain inside for the entire day, these could merely resolve the vaccuum created due to being coped up at home all of a sudden, in contrast to the dynamism we were used to.

Though the other side of the coin also shows shut cinemas, theaters, live sports event, Page 3 news, and so on, resulting in a never ending frustration, boredom and also, unpredictable future. A society which is largely dependent on being connected with all kind of entertainment, was all of a sudden forbidden from it. Because of no fault of theirs. We again moved from caller tunes and rings to social messages on a phone call. Upon looking at the situation closely, being from the media and entertainment industry for many years now, the center stage was being taken by some highly paid platforms, which were definitely not affordable for most of the consumer groups. Not only the affordability, but also a cut off from the market had been created as the conventional advertisements were all of a sudden stopped or not been produced, as the companies were either locked down, in losses, or decided to cut down their operational costs. The only segment impacted because of this natural calamity was the broadcasting industry. With no new content on board, the consumer groups started bouncing out of the channels and, hence, the TRPs and viewership fell down resulting in a decline in the broadcaster’s income. So, coming back to my point of going back to Ramayana, Mahabharat etc., the response was unexpectedly overwhelming with viewers sticking to the TV screens waiting for next episodes. Still, this could resolve the monetary issues faced only to a certain extent. As although TV viewership surged, collection nosedived as either people were not paying or there was a shortage of staff to collect money since many of them had returned to their hometowns. Also, many loyal customers were unable to pay because of job or business losses.

Just as all things must come to an end, so must the current situation. Yet, even when it does, consumers will largely remain confined to their homes for some time. This creates numerous challenges for OTT media and DTH/cable TV players whose audiences are already experiencing content fatigue. The crux is, for the next few years, consumer viewing devices (TV, mobile, tablet, etc.) will increase exponentially, and hence broadcasters need to look for fresh/new content in order to attract new consumers. In fact not only new but something different and according to the target audience. The cable and satellite industry needs to work on low-cost hybrid devices, which can cater to a larger section of consumers that have shifted to unconventional content delivery systems such as smartphones and tablets. Cable/DTH players need to work on understanding every user’s content choice, which can be done by upgrading platform intelligence for precise user preferences. This could be analytics in the backend, which can track which content or channel does the user switch to or what is the average lifetime of a user on a particular channel per different timeslots. This will help in creating/sourcing content as per the consumer’s requirement. They should also provide search option and recommendations based on the user’s viewing pattern. All three together, need to work collectively to meet consumer requirement which is getting changed on daily basis.

Cable/DTH operators have to work more aggressively and create unique kind of bundles on our set-top boxes. They also need to look for equally likeable and as per the current expectations, content on television. Although, with the expected downfall due to this pandemic, we need to be patient and wait for a revolution in the broadcasting industry, which will help us stick to televisions with our families, friends, and alone time.

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