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Written by Steven Bussey
on May 28, 2020

The on-demand TV market has been growing aggressively over the past decade. As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has driven home entertainment consumers into quarantine, its growth rate suddenly and very rapidly accelerated. Nielsen estimates that people's TV viewing can increase by as much as 60% while quarantined. Due to the current vast expansion of the market, there is currently a strong need for on-demand content providers to localize TV series and movies in order to make them accessible to more of the international entertainment media market.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people need to obtain sufficient relief from the mental, emotional and physical effects of severe boredom and lack of stimulating activities during quarantine. Broadcasting content producers are in a position to help alleviate these very real concerns brought on by the pandemic.

Therefore, the escalating viewership numbers in various international markets represent enormous opportunity for on-demand TV programming providers to grow their global market and for their audiences to benefit from richly increased programming variety.


Localization expands programming options

All facets of content localization are necessary to provide a quality experience for audiences who are now isolated at home 24/7. Those viewers need to be able to rely on stay-at-home entertainment resources to help them manage the psychological and emotional difficulties of living in quarantine. It's up to programming producers to bring as much content volume, variety and quality to their worldwide audience as possible during this difficult period.

Everything from voiceovers to subtitles and closed captions, to ads and social posts supporting the production of each program should be localized to help on-demand TV markets and consumers around the world. The goal should be to leave no one without the relief of a variety of localized TV programming, informational and educational program resources they want and actually need.


People all over the world are discovering new programming thanks in part to the global quarantine


Global demand for fresh programming variety

Watching TV is well known to be one of the world's most popular pastimes. So, predictably, while people around the world are staying home to reduce risk during the pandemic, vast numbers of them are staring at their TV screens for many of their waking hours.

According to Nielsen, there has been a striking increase in viewership numbers during the pandemic. Here are just a few examples of the stunning changes in TV watching habits worldwide over the most recent accounting quarters. The Nielsen numbers below include both scheduled and on-demand TV viewing as well as video streaming and gaming:

  • In South Korea, Nielsen recorded a 17% escalation in television viewing as coronavirus infection numbers rose sharply.
  • In Italy, the TV viewing audience expanded by nearly 7% percent and by nearly double that ratio in an area with especially high numbers of victims of the pandemic.
  • According to the New York Times, Nielsen reports are similar in the U.S., with TV viewing in Seattle, for example, jumping 22% in mid-March and New York increasing by 8% during that same period.


Overall TV industry uncertainties 2020–2021

Although the coronavirus pandemic has generated an explosive growth of TV audiences around the world, it has been suggested that the extreme growth in programming demand due to the COVID-19 quarantine actually presents a possible risk to the entertainment media industry. But how can that be the case?

With a worldwide population of people watching more TV than prior to the spread of COVID-19, media companies are cutting new program production during the same time viewership is rising in such large percentages. And it is not clear that they will be resuming regular production of programming very soon.

This circumstance has added to the soaring need for broader localization of existing programming in order to help meet demand for fresh content across international markets. For example, the New York Times reports:

  • Warner Brothers Studios has reportedly stopped production of some 70 TV series.
  • Even though Netflix usage has soared during the pandemic, adding 16 million new subscribers, the on-demand service has temporarily stopped production of all films and scripted TV series in Canada and the U.S.
  • Late-night talk shows like The Late Show are important network revenue generators that have shut down routine productions during the quarantine and shifted to host-from-home internet-facilitated versions of their programming.
  • The highly profitable sports programming revenue lines on which ABC and other networks depend have also shut down regular schedules, cancelling or postponing most major sports events.

Some game shows and other programs that were recorded live prior to the pandemic are still providing content for some weeks to come through the quarantine, but it is unclear how the final installments of some of their series this season will be produced, or if they will be suspended.


Watching habits are constantly shifting, especially in these uncertain timess


Upside for on-demand: Major Q2 activity

Serving expanded audiences internationally is becoming crucial to protecting profits in the hyper-expanded global viewer market and content producers' radically altered business operating dynamics. With the loss of a majority of regular sports, scripted series and new film productions from regular TV lineups, services like Hulu, Netflix, Disney Plus and Amazon Prime, to name a few, are likely to realize commensurately huge gains in viewership numbers.

In the meantime, film production companies like Disney are seizing opportunities to get their programs out to their audiences as quickly as possible in an effort to offset losses. Additionally, Universal is reportedly making its newly released films available to the rental streaming market on the same day they are released to theaters.

Making their media entertainment products available to a much broader audience has always been one of the most financially practical strategies for broadcast media producers to increase their ROI, and the returns are naturally multiplied with rises in viewership. But during the pandemic, producers must rely most heavily on the marketability of existing content. Altogether, it makes sense that television and film producers will do well during this unusual period by investing in top-quality localization of all new productions for distribution into as many international markets as feasible.

Some content providers are looking to launch their new revenue lines earlier than originally planned. For examples, reportedly:

  • AT&T HBO MAX has projected its launch date for mid-spring 2020.
  • NBC Universal video streaming projected its roll out date for late spring 2020.

Rolling out their programs earlier allows them to deliver a stronger value to their audiences by offering lower than intended pricing. On the other hand, there have been warnings for such providers to beware of ending up in a streaming service price war. There are concerns that producers' costs will become problematic due to such large percentages of the TV and movie consumer population now unemployed.

With the COVID-19 virus only now beginning to spread at increasing rates across previously unaffected regions, industry analysts are well advised to avoid making very specific predictions about what media consumers should expect over the coming weeks and months.

One constant that does remain however, even in the middle of the chaos that is currently impacting entertainment hubs like Los Angeles, is that localizing entertainment media content continues to be a necessary and reliable mode of increasing media consumption and overall ROI for providers.


The Andovar advantage

We are a global media-focused localization company, serving enterprise companies, video game producers, software developers, eCommerce, MarCom and other industries. We provide customized localization, integration and testing solutions for complex projects to facilitate global growth for broadcast media content providers.

Please feel free to reach out anytime to arrange some time to discuss your localization needs with our localization experts. Our international headquarters is located in Singapore, and we have production and sales agency branches in China, India, Thailand, Hungary, the United States, and Colombia, and our new engineering and training center in Mumbai India.


Contact Andovar Studios

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