How Covid influenced regional OTT behaviour and preferences - MARKETING Magazine Asia


How Covid influenced regional OTT behaviour and preferences

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In recent times, the advertising, cable TV and media content landscape in Southeast Asia has seen a rooted shift by the rise of several OTT platforms to provide subscription-based service offerings directly to consumers within the region. The shift has been fueled, in part, by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has brought about with it various movement controls and lockdowns  which have  affected not only what content Asians are consuming, but also how they consume it. 

Today’s consumer does not find a strong case for structured programming or live telecasts, with the latter often streamed live on platforms such as YouTube or Facebook. Meanwhile,  delayed telecasts often make their way into the database after several hours anyway. 

Working from home has resulted in an increase in work hours for some, while others in essential services do not have the luxury to pick their preferred time slots for entertainment. “Prime Time”, as we know it, has changed. Therefore, OTT platforms provide a convenient way for the viewer to watch their favourite programmes at a time and manner that is most conducive for their personal routine.

58% of OTT users have reported an increase in their usage of these platforms during the pandemic, compared to the time before it. With the increased digitization of government services and incentives during the pandemic, users have largely pivoted to using their smartphones and other mobile devices for registration at a premise, to receive the latest updates and directives by the government and to transfer money to e-wallets and the like. 

Like it or not, the pandemic-induced boost in mobile consumption is here to stay. As they say, digitalization only gets easier. Meanwhile, OTT platforms have gained a broad reach of audiences across the region. 

Well over a half of Asian viewers are female. In terms of income, a whopping 76% of viewers were found to have incomes ranging from RM3,000 to RM 15,000. The young, tech savvy urban middle income segment is making inroads, even to older folks in the countryside. The convenience of  choosing programming whenever and wherever through a few touches or buttons has made quality content consumption easier, and this trend is expected to continue, even in a post pandemic era.

This involuntary practice of digital usage has undoubtedly also increased OTT app downloads on tablets and smartphones, where accounts can be shared by family and different shows can be accessed at the same time by households in the comfort of their own space, using their own devices.

The inclusion of advertisements in OTT platforms does not seem to deter users from consuming their desired content. 89% of Southeast Asian viewers will watch advertisements in exchange for free streaming content, making these platforms particularly attractive to brands, which have a greater ability to deploy targeted advertising to multiple demographics.

While larger platforms rely on a fully subscription-based revenue, they are not able to cater to the unique preferences, especially with regards to local, regional and language-based tv shows. 

While numerous journals, surveys and studies have acknowledged the rise of OTT as a no-brainer, these platforms will only continue to evolve as neither a one-size-fits-all approach nor mainstreaming have been able to accommodate the nuances and diversity of the region. 

The market space is ever expansive and it includes droves of people who have relied on Smart TVs, entertainment devices and the like to broaden their access and choice of content.

Consumption has acutely demanded more quantitative evidence in terms of Return-on-Investment (ROI) within other performance metrics to provide enterprises with the pivotal data needed to respond quickly to the changing landscape. 

Besides, through lessons of mass advertising with trusted platforms such as Grab, the consumer is weighing advertisements more critically and are aware of the abundance of choices put forward to them.

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To summarize, here are the benefits of OTT advertising in the region, influenced by the evolution of viewer behaviour during the pandemic:

– Target audience segmentation gives better flexibility and targeting options as opposed to TV 

– Lower barrier in terms of media investments and budgets – depends on advertiser’s media appetite 

– Branding association with high quality, popular content 

– One good example to recall is the multi-year partnership with Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and iQiyi’s featuring of Singapore as the exclusive destination partner for the third season of their most popular variety competition, Youth with You. 

– On a local level, iQiyi has also brought on board Celcom Xpax as the Official Telco Partner and Youth With You’s ever title partner in Southeast Asia as part of a strategic partnership in Malaysia.

– They recently signed up for their first content sponsorship deal in Malaysia with SK magic, where they curated a content playlist featuring their brand ambassador Park Seo Jun.

Besides producing their own exclusive content, iQiyi has also started to invest more in quality content and productions. This year they will be streaming several self-produced dramas, including SEA and Korean, as well as more locally acquired fan favourites.

With the expansion to reach local markets, iQiyi is investing more into local offices to expand the local ad sales teams to support the demand in each of the markets.


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