Has the Lockdown diverted audio streaming to video?

06 Jul,2020


By Indrani Sen


During this decade, the listening habits of consumers have been steadily moving to online platforms. The demand for vernacular content consumption helped popular music streaming giants to establish their apps in India and benefitted the homegrown apps. At present, the main players in the Indian market are Times Internet-owned Gaana, JioSaavn, Apple Music, YouTube Music, Amazon Prime Music, Spotify, Google Play Music and Airtel Wynk.


The consumption of digital audio has been growing steadily from music streaming to podcasts. One would have thought that the coronavirus pandemic would further increase digital audio streaming, but it reality it has turned out to be different.


In one of the earlier reports released jointly by BARC and Nielsen, it was reported that both users per week and time spent by users per week for audio streaming have been going down across metros and non-metros. While the research agency attributed the decline to travelling coming to a halt, informal research showed that people staying at home preferred to see music videos than listen to audio tracks of music.


Source: Deep Dive into content and advertising consumption during COVID 19, 23rd April, 2020


This trend has been seen across the world with www.emarketers.com  reporting on audio streaming getting diverted to video streaming in UK and US during Coronavirus lockdown resulting in decline of average time spent with digital audio in 2020.


In UK, where steady gains were made till recently in digital audio consumption, www.emarketer.com has predicted a zero growth among the adult population in 2020. The picture in the US is broadly similar, though with time spent among adults declining only by a single percentage point. (https://www.emarketer.com/content/in-the-us-and-uk-audio-streaming-has-diverted-to-video-during-coronavirus-lockdown). April 2020 data from Nielsen Music as reported in the article, found that compared to an eight-week pre-Coronavirus baseline, audio music streaming volumes in the US were down by 6.2% in the week ending March 19 and by 9.2% in the week ending March 26. Music video streaming on the other hand increased by 9.3% and by 13.4%, respectively during the same two weeks. It is likely that a similar analysis in India will show similar trends during Covid-19.


Source: Coffee-With-Comscore-India-JUN2020


The Comscore Report of June 2020 estimated  the number of Unique Visitors (UVS) for top entertainment sites and apps in India. Among the music steaming apps, Jio Saavan had highest number of Unique Visitors followed  by Gaana Music. Hotstar has almost double the number of UVS of  Jio Saavan. An informal check with the audio streaming companies further revealed that both their Daily Active Users (DAU) and Monthly Active Users (MAU) have been going down staedily. They are now shifting their focus to increasing their subscription revenue, which currently has a miniscule share of their revenue.


The question which is currently haunting the audio streaming industry is if this shift to video streaming from audio steaming is a temporary phenomenon which will disappear with the pandemic or is it going to be a lasting effect which will adversely affect their future business plans? As education, trade and commerce grapple with the manifestation of the ‘new normal’ status, it can be safely guessed that the current trend is not a short-term affair. Unlocking of the economy will probably slow down the rate of diversion from audio streaming to video streaming, but it would not bounce back to the pre-Covid-19 scenario.


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