People are slowly realising that good content is worth paying for: Archana Anand

There are several lessons and takeaways from 2020, a momentous year of major disruptions, global shutdowns, economic rollercoaster due to COVID-19. Adgully brings its annual review of the year gone by, wherein industry experts analyse the most significant developments and trends of the year and their implications on the coming year as well. 

For Archana Anand, Chief Business Officer, ZEE5 Global, the key takeaways from 2020 has been the immense resilience of the human spirit and people’s ability to adapt to and thrive in change. The year also saw people becoming much more discerning about the quality of content they consume. 

Developments & disruptions 

The single biggest takeaway for me from 2020 is the immense resilience of the human spirit that we’ve seen, and our ability to adapt to and thrive in change. Like any year, 2020 started off with great promise, however barely a few months in, there was complete disruption with the pandemic and lockdown. Yet even within the turbulence, we’ve managed to not only quickly adapt to the new normal but also create new opportunities and fresh strategies. 

When production halted during the lockdown, disrupting the availability of new show episodes, we resurfaced older library content and classics which immediately picked up audience interest. When our plans to launch our first localisation initiatives in Bangladesh were thrown in array in March, we looked to other alternatives and ‘Biswa Obak Cheye Robe’, a recreation of a much loved old Bangladeshi folk song was rolled out with a made at home video in April that won hearts and minds across Bangladesh. We launched an Annual pack offer across global markets to encourage people to stay at home which saw a massive uptake, driving up new subscriptions by over 80% and spiking viewership across the board. 

We’ve had many key learnings this year. One is that people are slowly realising that (good) content is worth paying for, and this is quite a gamechanger for the industry. We’ve also seen people across the globe become much more discerning about the quality of content they consume. They are also experimenting more with new genres and storylines and even with international language content, especially when it is available in the language of their own comfort.  

The year in M&E 

It has really been the best of time and simultaneously the worst of times for media in 2020. While on the one hand, streaming services have come of age over the year with accelerated cord cutting and the surge in online consumption, the theatrical business across the globe has struggled with the lockdown and even post, with closed movies theatres and diminished audiences. With this massive disruption, the slew of digital premieres being rolled out on streaming platforms in 2020, especially during the lockdown has really not been enough to compensate for the losses.  

As the streaming industry continues its forward march in 2021, tech will surely be a key driver of its growth trajectory. In 2021, I see tech upping its game across AI and VR and through advanced personalisation and recommendation tools to enable platforms to manage the shifts in consumption. Another key trend I believe we will see in the OTT space is Gamification to drive up consumer engagement. 

Outlook for 2021 

While the next few months will be challenging, I see 2021 as the year we focus on recovery, especially in the initial quarter. With people globally opening up to the idea of paying to watch the content of their choice, I see an inevitable shift to subscriptions going forward. We haven’t seen any churn on our Annual packs post our offer, which is a clear trend indicator that people are willing to commit to a subscription where they see value. 

As lockdowns lift across markets, another clear trend indicator I see is also of people becoming much more discerning about the quality of content they watch, and increasingly conscious about their user experience. Again, much as hyper localisation is becoming an imperative across markets for platforms to make deeper inroads in key markets, I also see content that travels as a key theme in 2021 as users experiment with international language content. Both are huge focus areas for us in 2021, where you will see us making a marked difference. 


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