COVID-19 has brought global population to a standstill. With more than 3,00,000 confirmed and over 14,000 fatal cases, economies across the world are shut in a bid to contain the lethal virus. It has forced countries to shut schools, colleges, offices, markets, movie theatres, and other places of large public gatherings. Only essential supplies and services are open. This has forced people confined in their homes to take a significant shift in their regular lifestyles, at short notice.
An Upsurge in Online Video Streaming
As educational institutions remain closed and more organizations enable employees to work from home, OTT (Over-the-top) viewership has seen a sudden spike. These new streaming habits have resulted in a larger number of OTT sign-ups and increased time spent on video on demand (VOD) services.
While businesses continue to be operational as much as possible from homes, people are resorting to online entertainment too to look for some entertainment. Viewership on online streaming services has increased by up to 20 percent. The spike normally happens between 1 to 3 PM; which is the typical lunch window on a working day. In another survey done by Nielsen, it is predicted that online streaming consumption is expected to rise by up to 60 percent in the coming days.
Limited entertainment options on cable television and the closure of cinema halls have also forced more people to join online streaming services for quality entertainment.
Teachers and Students Taking the Digital Route
Early March data shows that the COVID-19 virus has put more than 300 million students out of the schools in different countries.
How are teachers and students coping from the abrupt shutdown of public and private educational institutes?
Students across the globe are transitioning to an online format of education to finish out their school year and continue their education. Students are continuing education through online classrooms, online courses, recorded videos of lectures and interactive sessions with teachers.
Several schools and colleges are increasingly collaborating with OTT platforms to facilitate online education to students during these testing times.
Multiple online applications are also offering free of cost online courses to students who are preparing for engineering, management, and medical exams among others.
In a bid to ensure learning continuity, Phando has also partnered with Noida-based Prometheus School to facilitate video classrooms and 1:1 sessions, class level activities, individualized learning modules, polls, and surveys. The partnership will ensure seamless connectivity for teachers, parents, and students while ensuring an effective learning program with minimal impact in the absence of in-person teaching sessions.
Bandwidth Issues Due to Increased Consumption
With an increasing number of people working from home, greater digital transactions, online healthcare, and online education solutions have stressed the internet networks all over the world.
Thierry Breton Read, commissioner of the European Union Internal Market had requested online streaming services to lower down the quality of video content from 1080p (High Definition) to 480p (Standard Definition). He had urged the online streaming companies to make this arrangement for a limited period of time to ensure internet bandwidth is available for other essential activities including news channels. At this time, Netflix has agreed to lower its video content quality to 480p (Standard Definition) for a period of 30 days.
A similar request has also been made by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) to the top OTT streaming services to ease the increasing pressure on the network infrastructure. “Due to lockdown/quarantine measures in various parts of the country, a sudden surge in demand for online video streaming is expected,” COAI explained in a letter sent to the Telecom Department.
It has also suggested removing ads and popups that guzzle a lot of bandwidth and replacing them with short snippets of public awareness about COVID-19.
The current situation is not going to resolve anytime soon – it is only likely to get worse in the coming days and might lock down more people globally. With no definite timeline in sight, it is essential for network providers, OTT services and platforms to step up and facilitate seamless and reliable services.