The Future of the Media and Communications Industry Post COVID-19

With people turning increasingly to the internet and digital media, we are witnessing a sea change in the way content is being consumed.

There is little doubt that post the pandemic, most things around us will not be the same. Clearly, this virus will leave long lasting scars not just in the way we behave but also in how we think about our lives. This means that all business have little choice but to adapt to these changes in human behaviour.

After all, most businesses, especially those in the Media and Communication industry are inherently linked to human behaviour and perception.

Scope of unhindered growth for the digital media

Clearly, the big winner in the media space has been the digital media. With lockdown and the subsequent work from home, school from home, everything from home that followed, people have turned in increasing numbers to the internet as a delivery medium for all of their entertainment and news needs.

Whether this is watching OTT services, checking for the latest breaking stories on Twitter or searching for things on the internet, usage of this medium has been huge across the globalised world which has been affected by COVID-19.

The media and communication industry has been quick to realise this and adapt, working out new ad campaigns, PR pushes and all kinds of content in a way that can be targeted quickly and inexpensively to millions of people looking for their next binge session as they try to while away the lockdown time.

Even when working or in school, most businesses and educational institutes have espoused the virtues of the internet using it as a means of communication and information for colleagues, partners, peers and the rest.

Our reliance on the internet and all it can do for us has exponentially increased and the media and communication industry has taken note and will continue to create new and innovative methods to reach out to audiences via this platform.

OTT platforms as the go-to entertainment option

We have already heard that a number of major film studios have bypassed the theatrical space and released films directly on OTT platforms. This was a given at the time as something that was enforced due to the pandemic and the closure of theatres, but my guess is that the success of some of these films will see more and more producers choose this route if the deal offered is interesting enough.

At the very least, it will create a strong competition to the primacy of theatres. More and more producers will be looking at the OTT platforms and alternative exhibition as a viable way to release their films without having to deal with the distribution and exhibition business which can be expensive and, at times, rigid.

The greatest concern is perhaps for film, with many journalists discussing the end of the film business as we know it after cinemas across the world closed for business and in India, we are currently seeing 6th month of complete exhibition shut-down.

I however do not see this as the end of the movies or the end of theatres as this period has clearly demonstrated that there is an audience who wants to see the biggest films on the biggest screen.

No doubt that OTT platforms will be very well patronised in a situation where there is no other alternative but once the lockdown is over and the pandemic is done, people will rush to cinemas again as the content that is awaiting release will demand it.

Business models will change, of course, as more and more films that perhaps were better suited for an OTT release will head there, but the economics of films being released in the theatres will still see most films release as per normal.

Social media as the source of news

News has also changed. We have seen how social media now dominates the breaking news scenario making it the key narrative driver of the mainstream news today.

Building engagement methods on social media can bring a news story into focus as well as help create huge viral waves of content around a story which makes digital the key driver for text, video and audio stories.

We can argue about the authenticity of some of these stories and the reasons behind bringing them into the spotlight, but there is no doubt of the power of this method and how it can be a definitive game-changer.

Television to stay here for long

Television has remained hugely in demand, of course. Satellite TV is the largest part of the media business and it has continued to be the majority’s go-to during this difficult time.

After the pandemic, TV will continue to dominate but, perhaps, in some key ways, its primacy will reduce as more and more people are able to use the convenience and flexibility of the internet coupled with the always-on and personalised touch of their mobile device.

By continuing to blend the internet with prime-time TV, the C&S business can continue to be relevant and hold its place in the post COVID era.

While concluding…

I have very little doubt there will be a large change in the way the media and communication industry adapt post the pandemic and a lot of these innovations will involve the hybrid use of digital as well as another media to ensure that there is strong reach, keen targeting coupled with engagement-driven traction for the content that will emerge a winner.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)


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