Gamification and interactive content are trends that we expect to be seeing even more of in 2022 as platforms up the ante, writes Archana Anand, Chief Business Officer, ZEE5 Global.
Where 2020 was a peak year for streaming video, 2021 has shaped up as another critical year, building on many of the trends that 2020 laid the groundwork for.
While the consumer’s appetite for new content remained unsatiated, platforms stepped up their game to meet this increased demand, experimenting with newer genres, bolder narratives,and more language offerings to keep audiences hooked, which in turn fuelled the demand for more innovative content.
As the world’s largest platform for South Asian content, ZEE5 operates in over 190 countries, catering to the South Asian diaspora across markets as also mainstream audiences that love Bollywood or global stories. Operating across a wide spectrum of countries ranging from developing markets like Bangladesh to mature video streaming markets including the recently launched U.S., and U.K., we have seen several key trends defining 2021 during our own journey of taking our content beyond borders.
The story that emerges points to an exciting albeit increasingly competitive market for streaming video with strong headroom for growth. More than anything else, it highlights the new reality that this is the way most of us will be watching our content hereon.
As we close out another highly eventful year at ZEE5 Global and for the larger streaming industry, here’s a look at some of the emerging trends we have seen across the ecosystem.
Local Stories Going Global
While the popularity of Korean content across countries is a global case study, Zee’s Zindagi channel made India fall in love with Turkish, Spanish, and other international content. Today, with rapid advances in dubbing and subtitling, and evolving audiences, content creators and streaming platforms are increasingly building out their approach for the world as ‘one market’. This is a key paradigm shift, driven by OTT platforms like ZEE5 that enable audiences in any market to connect with stories from across the globe. Be in in terms of offering content dubbed or subtitled across languages especially in English or ensuring that content releases and marketing plans are synced up across markets, this is a significant trend that will help expand reach to global audiences who hunt out rich storytelling and are eager to discover international titles.
Subscription Video-On-Demand(SVOD) surges ahead
As content consumption soared during the lockdown, so did the options. SVOD services have continued to grow at a rapid clip in 2021 as viewers became more open to paying to watch those exclusive originals or latest blockbusters. In 2021, according to Deloitte1, an estimated 80% of U.S. households had at least one paid SVOD subscription.
At ZEE5 Global, we saw a2x growth in subscriptions y-o-y in 2021 over 2020 across international markets. Viewers are open to subscribing if they are confident about a platform’s ability to consistently deliver on quality content month after month and offer a diverse range of relevant options. In the U.S. where we launched ZEE5 as a pureplay SVOD service in June 2021, nearly 40% of our users subscribed to the Annual pack, indicating their confidence in the platform and the value seen in the affordable pricing.In under five months since launch, ZEE5 is already the foremost standalone Direct to Consumerplatform for South Asian content in the U.S. In other countries, like Australia and Singapore, we saw a direct correlation between the lockdown and spikes in subscription.
New churn habits amplify the criticality of Analytics
With amplified competition in 2021, consumers are faced with abundant choices. Leading them to choose a handful of services as their preferred set and then flirt with the others i.e., subscribing for individual shows and then churning out. More than ever therefore, deep data analytics, including AI and machine learning, play a key role in upping the ante on content personalization, communication through the customer life cycle, and strategic retention tactics.
Sports And Entertainment Synergies
As the battle for the viewer intensified, 2021 saw an increasing trend of entertainment platforms investing in sports content. Live sports as a category has been slow to transition to streaming. In 2021, with limitations on attending live events and sports viewership also shifting online, platforms have been increasingly bidding for sports rights to expand their audience base. This also offers platforms an opportunity to drive deeper viewer engagement for these events through social media, fantasy leagues and more, while adding in revenue streams through targeted advertising, upselling and the like.
Greater Interactivity and Engagement
With increased social chatter and surround sound around shows, viewers are today much more involved and engaged with the storylines and characters from their favourite shows. In an increasingly competitive environment with viewers looking for differentiation, platforms have seen this as an exciting opportunity to make their shows more interactive and immersive to keep their viewers more engaged. Gamification and interactive content are trends that we expect to be seeing even more of in 2022 as platforms up the ante in wooing audiences with more personalized experiences.
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