The Impact of COVID-19 Lockdown on Media Consumption- The COVID-19 declared as a Pandemic by the World Health Organization has coerced several countries of the world grappling with the disease to impose a lockdown. The novel coronavirus which causes the disease has claimed thousands of lives and affected lakhs and counting. Bearing in mind the rampant surge in the number of COVID-19 cases with every passing day, several countries have imposed a restriction of some sorts to curb its further spread.
According to the recommendations of WHO; safe hygiene, regular handwashing and social distancing are the preventive strategies that must be adopted by everyone to help reduce the infection rates. The imposition of a lockdown ensures the implementation of a mandatory mass quarantine and social distancing practices which are essential to break the chain of transmission of the coronavirus.
Aside from the essential service workers such as health care professionals, policemen, firemen, janitors, district administration officers who are out there at the forefront fighting to save and protect each and every life, everyone else has been directed to stay inside the confines of their homes unless urgently required. The impact of the disease has been projected as one of the worse after the second world war. Thus, coordinated effort on the part of different stakeholders at the administration level and the citizens is required to tide over this critical situation.
Social Distancing and Media Usage
In the midst of this war against the virus, we have made a forward jump from a casual hello at the office watercooler to staying behind a webcam for virtual team meetings, from discussing lectures at the college canteen to attending live classes. Our bedrooms have replaced the office boardrooms while we keep ourselves occupied with some or the other household chore running in the background while preparing presentations for the next project.
The emergence of COVID-19 and its increased spread is likely to dictate consumer behavior in the near future, in almost all the sectors including that of media consumption. With stay-at-home being our daily survival mantra, the use of digital facilities and social media has leapfrogged the competition between entertainment sources, seeing a sharp rise in the use of digital media such as those that provide streaming subscriptions.
Spending more time indoors is bound to alter the media consumption behavior globally. Recent research conducted by Nielsen’s U.S. media team lends support to this by highlighting that the mandatory quarantining, social distancing and stay at home measures taken could help perk up media consumption by nearly 60%, while social media activity surged up by 50X in India. It was also found that whenever the Prime Minister addressed the nation regarding the Janta curfew, or lockdown in recent times, it led to an increased usage of social media on various platforms.
The Impact of the Lockdown on Social Media Platforms
As people gravitate towards media to stay socially engaged post lockdown, several mediums of media have witnessed a huge jump in their consumption. A sharp increase in internet browsing and the usage of various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram were recorded. These social media platforms are also serving the purpose of keeping people well informed about the official notifications, situation reports, and recommendations by the official handles of the government departments and health departments across the globe.
Social media usage has skyrocketed as people are using it to engage in dialogues, share their opinions, and experiences. The increased social media activity was capitalized on by creating awareness campaigns to educate the general public regarding the precautionary measures required as a part of the preventive strategies employed against the novel coronavirus. However, on the flipside social media is also being used by many to spread rumors, and fake news. Hence, it is of utmost important to follow only verified handles, and pages of officials channels.
Looming restrictions on travel, staying at home, and marketing strategies being retracted due to the global shutdown has taken a toll on social media influencers as well. With several projects stalled, some of them brought to a halt midway, both celebrities and social media stars are forced to revamp their working techniques. They can optimize this time effectively by engaging with their target audience more than ever who has all the time in the world to view their content. However, brands, celebrities and influencers all need to be mindful of their marketing strategies in a way that is likely to deliver positive and meaningful messages in these dark times.
How are Television and Digital PlatformsAffected
Another report published by KPMG titled “COVID-19: The many shades of a crisis- A media and entertainment sector perspective”, suggests that the pandemic induced interruptions in the lives of people globally will consequently present a challenge to traditional forms of media to as opposed to their digital counterparts. According to the report, the COVID-19 induced lockdown has led to a spike in the consumption of television, gaming, Over The Top (OTT) digital platforms while plummeting the requirements of resorting to an outdoor source of entertainment such as movies, theme parks, and events to name a few. the film and theatre industry has been hit hard due to social distancing. The monetary sustenance of the media and entertainment sector largely thrives on the advertisement expenditure by industries such as FMCG, e-commerce, finance and automobile, which hit by the economic slowdown, are likely to scale back expenditure in the advertising sector.
The report highlights that the lockdown has resulted in an increased viewership for television, the primary beneficiary being news channels that are right now providing COVID-19 updates in real time. As people remain homebound, the revenue generated from the subscription of digital platforms might see a perceptible increase as people would be keen on binge-watching the content available which is a paid feature. However, its long term impact can be evaluated once the restrictions are lifted which may see a dearth of fresh content that may force people to roll back.
Digital platforms and social media channels can leverage on the lockdown by investing their time in communicating with their audience as much as they can. This can be accomplished by engaging in the various challenges doing the rounds on the internet such as the Dalgona Challenge, 1 minute plank challenge, Saree Challenge or creating your own challenges to keep your audiences tightly knit. This will help cement your relationship with your audience by winning over their trust, and loyalty which will overtime help drive your visibility to peaks.