Impact of Covid-19 on Media and Entertainment in India
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Impact of Covid-19 on Media and Entertainment in India

The COVID-19 pandemic is profoundly changing the world. As the global economy continues to reel from the shock, the outbreak has already changed human attitudes and behavior, be it work or play, forcing organizations to respond. While some of the behavioral shifts could be deemed temporary, many are here to stay. These behaviors are driven not just by the current circumstances but also by the deep emotional mayhem that consumers are going through.

A vast majority of the population is dealing with anxiety, fear, stress, and mental health mostly driven by fear of losing dear ones, financial crisis, rising unemployment rate, and loneliness. At the same time, the pandemic has forced many superfast and an acquisitive urban lot to slow down, adjust and appreciate what they have, spend quality time with family and even participate more in social responsibilities. Others are tapping into this lockdown as an opportunity — an opportunity to pick up a new skill, unwind, and also showcase their talent to society through social media. In all this, media and entertainment have a huge role to play.

Based on Course5’s social media analytics study conducted from January – May 2020, it’s clear that Indian consumers’ expectations from entertainment are changing rapidly. Consumers are looking forward to media and entertainment to be informed, relax, revive, learn, connect better with family and society, and even earn money. Course5 looked at the various buckets of entertainment such as TV, music, hobbies and interests, OTT, and gaming in 2 timeframes – pre (January to mid-March 2020) and during (Mid-March to May 2020).

Here are some of the key themes that emerged from the analysis.

Mythology and classic family shows are back

Not surprisingly, television remained the favorite topic in both ‘pre’ and during the lockdown period with close to 6 million conversations India wide across social media channels. However, there was a clear shift in conversations during the concerned time frame. In the pre-lockdown period, — apart from conversations related to the Republic Day parade, daily soaps dominated most of the social media conversations. Consumers wanted an extension of their favorite drama series (#DontEndPatialaBabes, #ExtensionForKahanHumKahanTum, #StarPlusWeWantDivaDristi) and expressed dejection with discontinuation of a few series. This also led to some positive and happy conversations (e.g. Ek Duje Ke Vaaste 2 on Sony TV). However, with Ramayan being telecast during the lockdown period, not just Doordarshan’s website crashed after the 1st episode, social media featured close to 50,000 mentions about DD. During the lockdown period, most of the positive expressions continued to be led by Ramayana, Mahabharat and Uttar Ramayana on DD. Consumers appreciated DD for bringing back golden memories such as Byomkesh Bakshi and Circus, and demanded more of clean family entertainment series such as Dekh Bhai Dekh and Malgudi days (#quarantinemood #ChildhoodMemories) indicating the healing effect of these genres.

News channels are considered important but depressing

On social media, NDTV and TimesNow have been trending the most among TV channels with a whopping number of mentions, about three hundred thousand each. NDTV Watch, PMO India, TimesNow breaking news garnered much attention, with consumers continually looking for information on cases of Covid-19, government initiatives, and other updates related to the pandemic. During the lockdown phase, most of the negative emotional expressions were led by news related to the epidemic, primarily government actions and plight of migrant workers walking hundreds of kilometers to home states. Many criticized the central government for playing religious cards during a time of crisis, while others commented on a lack of proactive steps from specific state governments, as in the case of Bihar’s stranded students from Kota.

Social Media is more powerful than before in rediscovering hobbies and talents

Expressions around hobbies and interests took a significant leap during lockdown vs. pre-lockdown period, the highest among all other entertainment buckets. While health and fitness continued to be the favorite topic on social media, dance, cooking and yoga, in particular, were discussed a lot more during the lockdown. Consumers used lockdown time to learn something new with respect to their passion and showcased their talent to the world, especially through YouTube and TikTok. With restrictions on cooks entering home and home delivery options such as Swiggy and Zomato, consumers took up cooking a lot more during the lockdown. Conversations indicated that consumers enjoyed this activity as social media provided an opportunity to amateurs to learn cooking (simple and complex recipes), participate in fun activities (Dalgona coffee challenge, water recipes) and even seek convenient options such as ‘5-minute recipes’ that grew in mention by 56% on the internet during the lockdown. This indicates that many consumers may continue home cooking even in the coming days.

during lockdown vs. pre-lockdown period for social media

Meditation & Yoga are the need of the hour

While overall conversations on interests increased by 60% during the lockdown, expressions on yoga and meditation took a leap of 80%+ compared to the pre-lockdown phase.

This is reflective of the huge mental stress consumers were going through as they sought meditation to maintain positivity and patience. This has opened up considerable opportunities for yoga and other institutes to promote online content and classes (#ChitShakti Meditation & Yoga, #Guided Meditation/Yoga, #PowerOfPositivity, #YogaWithIndiaTV). Spiritual discourses and positive talks (such as #SadhguruForChallengingTimes & #SadhguruQuotes) have also picked up similar attention, especially among females and, again, driven by mental stress.

Meditation & Yoga are the need of the hour

OTT gains a prominent place in personal entertainment

With limited access to entertainment outside the home, the volume of conversations around the top OTT platforms such as Netflix & Amazon Prime increased during the lockdown. With no other option, OTT was used by producers to release new movies (e.g., Bollywood movie, Gulabo Sitabo). Consumers found OTT a convenient way to pass their weekends, especially Fridays, and have plenty of options. During weekdays (Monday-Thursday) IPL, Indian TV drama series on Hotstar and Sony LIV get the majority of hits. During the weekend (Friday-Sunday), Southern blockbuster movies, along with Bollywood movies on Prime, live voting on Voot, followed by VIVO IPL fetched more attention. Netflix has been the most talked about channel during both phases. Amazon Prime and Disney Hotstar have, however, gained much attention during lockdown vs. pre-lockdown phase.

Family Games and eSports are refining gaming trends

PubG and Dream11 continued to top the conversation charts on gaming. However, playing board games as well as online games with family and friends garnered expressions related to ‘joy’ among consumers leading to a massive increase in conversations for Ludo (King) and Carom during lockdown. Other mentions around gaming have been on Call of Duty (mobile) and the FIFA event. The popularity of eSports increased during the lockdown because of exponential growth in prize money, followed by a chance to play in different online competitions.


New Opportunities for Business


The continuously evolving consumer entertainment needs and behavior pose immense opportunities for businesses such as content manufacturers and producers, gaming industry, telecom providers, OTT channels, online communities, and education institutes. Companies need to tap them to connect better with consumers and monetize emerging avenues at the right time with the right audience.

Course5 Intelligence is deeply involved with clients across many of these industries, guiding them on potential marketing strategies using AI and analytics driven insights from social media and other data sources.


Silky Rout
Silky Rout
Silky has more than 14 years of experience with 12 years with Course5 where she has worked across multiple global clients in the technology and...
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