COVID-19: Accelerating industry disruption

2020 has been the year of unprecedented change with the entire world forced to shut down and the COVID-19 pandemic shaking up business models, technology adoption and ways of interacting in all industries. The video distribution world that we inhabit, has seen new programming formats emerge alongside remote working and virtual workflows coming on-stream sooner than organisations were planning – not to mention the uptake of direct-to-consumer (D2C) models, particularly for movies.

While many industries were frozen by COVID-19, the April IABM Coronavirus Impact Report highlighted that this wasn’t the case for the media and entertainment industries, which saw a 60% spike in streaming and a 67% increase in the audience watching news.

The report suggested that the crisis would continue to spur on creative innovation. Sports broadcasters for example, have leveraged archives to create new content for fan engagement and experimentation with formats that don’t rely on live production. We believe that it’s likely that post-COVID many of these developments will become normalised across the industry.

 

Streaming spike

According to Ofcom’s third annual Media Nations report, adults spent an average of 40% of their day watching TV and online video services during the height of lockdown. Time spent on streaming services doubled during the pandemic and saw more than 12 million new service sign-ups.

The much-anticipated streaming service from Disney was launched in the UK on 24 March (the day after lockdown began in the UK) having launched in the US the previous November. It successfully leverages Disney’s legacy content of family favourite brands and is judged to be a global hit. It is a safe bet that COVID-19 accelerated its success, with Disney+ leapfrogging Now TV. It has become the third most-popular paid-for streaming platform in the UK and is even more popular than BBC iPlayer among younger viewers.

Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have also seen great results among 16 to 34-year-olds viewing increasing to an average of two hours a day on subscription streamers this year.

In the UK, broadcasters achieved record audience share, while news and cultural programming in Italy surged as did general entertainment in France, according to S&P Market Intelligence. While, cable news networks in the US saw “noticeably higher” primetime viewership in March 2020, compared with March 2019. Statista also found global media consumption, device usage, video streaming and streaming video on-demand (SVoD) users worldwide have all grown this year. This certainly backs-up what we’ve seen at our customers, with for example BroadwayHD and Topic seeing a very significant elevation in consumption and engagement.

 

Digital disruption

As we continue to adapt to the new normal, the acceleration of technological innovation from virtual working, production and delivery, to harnessing traditional and next-generations services, is changing the entertainment and media landscape. Whether we like it or not, we must move with it and the second half of 2020 needs to continue to adopt flexible workflows and innovative solutions that address the challenges and demand driven by changes in audience engagement.

We believe that the primary effect of COVID-19 has been to accelerate the changes that were already underway. The world has gone virtual almost overnight and audiences are demanding more entertainment, sports and news content than ever before. The rise of OTT and streamers, including niche services and broadcasters fighting back with their own multiscreen offerings, have all been accelerated by the pandemic. The changes to content consumption are inevitable as new technologies are employed, making this, as ever, an exciting time to be working in the industry.

I am continually impressed at the innovation and rapid state of change we have undergone as a team and enabled for our customers. I look forward to our sector driving innovation, so that together we ensure that the entertainment needs of consumers continue to be met – whatever the circumstances.

 

Donald McGarva
Group CEO, Amino