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The two months of complete lockdown in India owing to the pandemic resulted in a 25% spike in people watching a minimum of 4 hours of daily content, as was revealed in a study conducted by MICA’s Centre for Media and Entertainment Studies (CMES) that mapped the change in consumption patterns and platform engagements which took place during the lockdown period. The Pan-India study further found that Indians preferred comedy as a genre during the lockdown as an escape from their anxieties. 

The study titled ‘COVID-19 and Content Consumption’ highlights the change in media consumption habits, preferred genre, emerging platforms, surge in social gaming, news absorption patterns and important factors behind content selection.

Shift in consumption pattern: 
According to the study, there was a clear shift and increase in content consumption patterns since the onset of the lockdown. It states, “Before the lockdown, nearly 57% of the people watched less than two hours of content, 32.7% consumed 2-4 hours of content and 7.5% consumed 4-6 hours of content on a daily basis. However, during the lockdown, there was an increase of 25% (from 7.5% to 31.5%) in people who consumed 4 hours of content daily. A substantial increase in people consuming more than 8 hours of content was also reported. From 2.3% (pre-lockdown), this rose to 8.3% during the lockdown.” 

These findings were based on the responses of 429 working professionals and students across India gathered between April and May 2020. 

Prof. Santosh Patra

The study was conducted by a team led by MICA Professor Santosh Patra, Head – ,CMES, with Leslin Bastian and three students from the PGP - second year - Piyush Goswami, Mohammad Salman Khan and Aakriti Ananya. The study further cited that YouTube was overall the preferred leading platform for online education because of its ‘freemium’ nature. 

Speaking about the study, Prof. Patra elaborated, “Media has witnessed major shifts in content consumption habits among people. As life outdoors came to a standstill, there was panic, anxiety, and fear among people which made them look for alternate ways of escapism. This resulted in a sudden bout of classical revivalism with Doordarshan airing Ramayana and Mahabharata tele-serials to Amul telecasting advertisements of the 90s. Hence, it is imperative for us to understand the reason behind the shift and interpret the changes.” 

“As far as an immediate change in habits was concerned, we observed that TikTok seemed to have broken the age barrier as working professionals preferred TikTok more than students. This was possibly due to the work from home environment”, Prof. Patra added. 

OTT | Genre | Shows: 
Sharing further insights on OTT platform’s, Prof. Patra said, “The study reveals that ‘comedy’ was the most popular genre during the lockdown as people looked to escape from their fears and anxieties. Over 75 % of respondents chose it as their go-to genre. Drama and thrillers were the second and third most-watched genre after comedy. 

The study states that ‘Money Heist’ on Netflix and ‘Panchayat’ on Amazon Prime were the most-watched shows during the lockdown. In terms of OTT platforms, Netflix emerged as the go-to OTT platform among students while professionals preferred Disney+Hotstar. Among Indian OTT players, Voot registered the highest number of new subscribers during the lockdown. 

Commenting on the study, Dr. Shailendra Raj Mehta, President & Director, MICA said, “As the world took a giant pause due to the lockdown, a lot of upheavals occurred in media consumption patterns. The MICA-CMES study has stumbled upon new patterns of consumption that would help understand how the crisis has led to a change in preferences from an Indian perspective.”

Online Gaming | News Consumption: 
After e-learning, social games were the most popular new form of content consumed by students, the study reveals. 

Elaborating further, Prof. Patra said that the lockdown resulted in a surge of social gaming apps, which was seen as a way of filling the void of being unable to go out and hang out with friends. Ludo King emerged as the leader in gaming apps with 37.5% of people claiming to have played Ludo King at least once during the period of lockdown. 

“In terms of news, nearly 57% of the respondents termed social media as the primary source of news, followed by news apps. The newspaper was the least preferred source of news with only 18% of respondents choosing it”, the study concluded. 

In a nutshell: 
Total respondents: 429 (178 females) 
Cities covered: 60+ 
Occupation: 50% working professionals, 46.6 % of students, rest included home makers 

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