COVID and CTV: How the Pandemic Fueled a Boom in VOD | Hacker Noon

We have been living through the drastic changes caused by COVID-19 for over a year now, and the results impact our mental wellbeing as well as physical health. Due to quarantine, it’s hard to stay productive, work normally, and make plans for the future. No wonder that the number of people experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression has increased from 11% to 42% for the last year, according to a survey by the US Census Bureau. 

Much of that has been tied to the stress caused by the unpredictability of the world in the last year. People have been compelled to seek solace in the virtual world, where they can cheer themselves up (or at least reload when they need to). At this time, when most activities outside the home haven’t been available, connected TV has taken a step forward by offering tons of entertaining content that everyone can access anytime on demand.

CTV as relief during quarantine 

With CTV, users decide what content they want to watch, when and in what way they want to do so. They control their viewing experience from beginning to end. There is no chance of missing something important because CTV content is loaded, paused, and resumed on demand. Traditional linear TV forces viewers to be in front of their screens at a particular scheduled time, and there is no opportunity to watch the broadcasted content in any other way. Though staying at home during quarantine is usually not difficult, planning a schedule around the shows one wants to watch can still be a hassle. With connected TV, viewers can relax knowing that they can access any content they choose on multiple devices at any time. 

CTV also offers cost savings. With CTV, you pay only for the content and services you want, instead of paying for a big cable or satellite package which includes all kinds of programming that aren’t relevant to you. This is important during the pandemic when people are trying to tighten their budgets, and high-value, low-cost CTV offers exactly that.

But convenience isn’t the only reason why CTV is blossoming these days. People are also attracted to CTV by original content which is available only on certain platforms; it’s so important that companies are ready to spend billions of dollars on it. If there are TV shows that can be viewed only on one streaming service, or games that can be played only on one gaming platform, people have a very strong reason to adopt that platform to get access to that exclusive entertainment. 

Unique experiences have always been important, but in times when digital media may be the solely available form of entertainment, they are absolutely critical. For example, more than 45% of Disney+ subscribers are motivated by the original content they are able to watch with their subscriptions. And more broad research shows that 47% of viewers subscribe to channels and platforms because they want access to videos and games that they wouldn’t be able to otherwise. 

Video gaming as a new CTV trend

Whereas movies and shows offer a passive viewing experience, games offer interactive entertainment that puts players in control. The participatory experience of gaming is appealing during these stressful times. All of this has led to a noticeable increase in the popularity of gaming among all kinds of people over the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The vast and growing variety of available games can satisfy the need for new experiences. Game developers keep on inventing new game ideas, developing new storylines, and building new material for their previous creations. Moreover, video games can be played across a wide variety of platforms, including CTVs.

Even before the pandemic, the video gaming industry was on the rise. Beginning in 2019, the number of gamers in the US has grown an average of 5.7% a month and is expected to reach more than 177 million in 2021. The gaming industry’s expansion has reached the CTV environment as well. According to our research, from all the apps published on Roku in 2020, 1.4% account for games — twice as many as in 2019, — and this number only promises to grow. 

Thanks to that, there are emerging companies who try to saddle a trend, but because of the sheer newness of the market, not a lot of them are doing so professionally. And that is what we at Playcent Games are trying to change: to broaden the OTT market from mostly TV shows to more divergent content. By capitalizing on our experience in the mobile market, we want to bring to the CTV gaming market a lot more professionally created content. 

We have every reason to believe that interest in OTT content and games on streaming platforms will rise even more in the new post-COVID world. The Deloitte digital media trends survey shows that, during the crisis, a third of consumers have subscribed to a video gaming service or used a cloud gaming service for the first time. Although 55% of Americans 18 and older believe they could get back to their normal routines this year, they won’t give up new forms of entertainment: Emarketer analysis predicts that time spent with CTV will not only maintain its levels but continue to go up. This would mean combining the new habits created during quarantine with old ones, creating an altogether new way of interacting with the world. 

And we see big potential in that.

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