Home >News >India >Covid-19: Streaming services experiment with free offers as people stay home

NEW DELHI: As more and more people stay home, following states imposing lockdowns or placing people in quarantine due to rising cases of Covid-19, video streaming services that have seen nearly 20% rise in viewership are offering free content to lure more customers.

American video streaming service Amazon Prime Video has brought out a special catalogue of children and family content, available for free. This includes Amazon originals like Bug Diaries, Creative Galaxy, Just Add Magic, The Snowy Day, select third-party family movies and TV series licensed from studio partners.

“To access the free kids and family content on Prime Video, families don’t need a Prime membership, just an Amazon account, which is free and can easily be set up on the website. We continue to explore opportunities to make a wider selection of content available for customers," Amazon said.

Eros Now, the streaming service owned by Eros International Ltd, is offering a free two-month subscription.

Meanwhile, Apple TV+ whose programming is only subscription-based, has brought out its first free show, Oprah Talks COVID-19 where television producer and talk show host Oprah Winfrey interviews people via FaceTime.

“Binge watching is becoming the new normal and with the current situation, OTT media is likely to become the main source of entertainment. OTT players should be encouraged by findings that reveals that Indian viewers have no issue consuming ads or sharing their personal data in return for a reduced OTT subscription cost. said Hillel Geiger, head of marketing, amdocs:next and Amdocs Media, a global software and services provider to communications and media companies.

The research also found they prefer pay-per-use options, so that they only pay for the content they want to watch rather than for monthly subscriptions. "Yet to maximize their chances of success, OTT players will need to experiment with various payment or subscription models to attract different segments of the population," he said.

Geiger added that communication service providers on the other hand should also experiment with their own OTT bundles and subscription models. They too need to create the right content packages and experience by quickly on-boarding as many OTT partners as they can so that they can meet the entertainment needs of all members within a household.

Meanwhile, as people stay home and increase screen usage for content and entertainment consumption, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has requested the government to direct video streaming platforms to reduce their streaming format to standard-definition (SD) to manage traffic distribution patterns which are likely to strain the network infrastructure. Netflix, that says its standard definition videos use about 1 GB of data per hour, while HD video uses about 3 GB per hour, has cut video quality in Europe and Israel.

“We support the need for careful management of telecom services to ensure they can handle the increased internet demand with so many people now at home full-time due to COVID-19. Amazon Prime Video is working with local authorities, mobile service providers and Internet service providers where needed to help mitigate any network congestion, including in India where we’ve already begun the effort to reduce streaming bitrates whilst maintaining a quality streaming experience for our customers," a Prime Video spokesperson said.

Tarun Katial, CEO, ZEE5 India, added that the company understands Indian audience’ data consumption pattern and has initiated measures to restrict the streams being delivered on any device at the player level, which will ensure the existing bandwidth is not overstretched.

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