NEW DELHI: India’s monthly active internet user base is estimated to reach 639 million by the end of 2020, thanks to the coronavirus lockdown that has pushed people inside homes with not much else to do.
Currently estimated at 574 million, the number of monthly active internet users has registered an annual growth of 24%, indicating an overall penetration of 41% in 2019. These are insights from the ICUBETMreport by data, insights and consulting company Kantar.
Rural India is driving the digital revolution, having registered internet growth of 45% in 2019 compared to urban India’s 11%. There are 264 million internet users in rural India, and this is expected to reach 304 million in 2020. Local language content and video drive the internet boom in rural India, with a 2.5 times increase in penetration among the population in the last four years. Also, mobile is the device of choice as 100% active users browse the internet through it.
“The new decade is expected to witness the next wave of digital India aided by the recent covid-19 pandemic that has catalysed the speed at which the already connected consumer is getting further connected with devices, payments, e-medicine etc," Puneet Avasthi, senior director, insights division, Kantar, said in a statement.
The annual tracking study gauges the changing digital ecosystem in India, measuring internet usage by demographic, activity and device segments. Launched in 1998, the study covered about 75,000 respondents across 390 cities and urban locations and about 1,300 plus villages. The study represents all states and Union Territories barring Lakshadweep.
About 84% users access the internet for entertainment purposes. The year 2019 witnessed a surge in OTT (over-the-top streaming), both audio and video, driven by original content and cricket (both the IPL and the cricket World Cup streamed on OTT platforms) besides the convenient availability of content across devices and on-the-go low cost of internet services which resulted in significant growth in entertainment consumption over the year.
This is expected to continue in 2020 too, especially in view of the coronavirus lockdown, the report says. Kantar reports growth of more than 60% in daily Internet users in the last one year; and almost 9 out of 10 active Internet users were accessing the Internet for entertainment and communication needs.
At 38%, school-going children segment, of 15 years of age or below has shown a promising growth in Internet usage. Access to information and education, social media, gaming and entertainment, especially, sports, is driving the adoption.
“The coronavirus lockdown has pushed users to experiment with various digital solutions, some of them by desire while others due to compulsion. The comfort of accessing services and availing their benefits from the comfort of home in times of social distancing will continue to push users to adopt and use multiple Internet services," Biswapriya Bhattacharjee, vice president, insights division, Kantar said in a statement adding that the year 2020 is likely to see a tectonic shift in both Internet adoption and frequency of usage.
“OTT, hyperlocal services, social media and communication and online payments will be some key elements that drive the impact," Bhattacharjee added.
Further, children and housewives are expected to be the new Internet adopters in the next year or two while video, voice and vernacular content will drive higher engagement and frequency of usage, the report says.