The live streaming feature on social media platforms is seeing a huge uptake during the lockdown
The entertainment scene in the country is changing to make up for the cancellation of events and large gatherings amid the lockdown. Live streaming of music concerts, stand-up comedy shows, poetry readings, fitness training, cookery shows and plays on social media is now an emerging trend. Brands have hopped on the bandwagon and tied up with celebrities and influencers to create live shows and branded content.
The Bacardi NH7 Weekender was among the trendsetters of live streaming on social media. Under its IG Live music festival, Instagram launched ‘Live in your Living Room’ on March 29, featuring artistes Armaan Malik, Lisa Mishra, Naezy, Shalmali Kholgade, Jonita Gandhi and Ankur Tewari.
Stand-up comedians have used YouTube’s live streaming platform to raise funds to provide personal protective equipment to frontline health workers. Chefs, fashion bloggers, ed-tech brands and singers have begun streaming content, contests and challenges live on TikTok.
OTT apps are taking to it, too. Sunburn @Home is being streamed live on Zee5, in addition to other social media platforms. The organisers of Sunburn have managed to strike a few brand sponsorships for the live stream.
The growth in time spent on social media (up by 36%, at 38 minutes per day per user, as per a report from BARC India and Nielsen) is reflected in the number of live streams that people are now watching.
There has been a multifold increase in the viewership of TikTok live videos, too. Sample this: Awez Darbar, a TikTok influencer who would get 1,200 views on live videos at the beginning of the lockdown, clocked nine lakh viewers for a recent live show.
Social media analysts say that consumers are looking for ways to deal with the lockdown. “Therefore, brands are attempting subtle brand integrations in live content. The themes are mainly fitness, beauty and self-care, music, food recipes and interactions with celebrities,” says Sahil Shah, VP, operations and media (West & South), WATConsult.
CRED, a credit card bill payment app, has used live streaming to offer premium experiences to customers — 80 of its users were offered coupons to watch an exclusive concert by musician Ankur Tewari. Then there’s Asian Paints, which took song requests from users and got singers like Shaan and Shankar Mahadevan to perform live on Instagram.
Some brands are offering consumers tips and support. “Our marketing efforts have followed eyeballs to social media platforms. We chose to stream content that people are looking for, such as fitness sessions and financial advice, through our social media handles,” says Chandramohan Mehra, CMO, Bajaj Allianz Life.
The popularity of live streaming has prompted social media platforms to adapt. For instance, Instagram has rolled out a feature that allows live content to be streamed on desktops. “We’re also testing a way to save live videos to Instagram TV, so they stick around longer than the 24-hour limit in Stories,” informs Manish Chopra, director and head of partnerships, Facebook India. Meanwhile, TikTok’s live feature, which was tucked away on the app, has found a prime spot at the top of the Discover section.
Free for all
Despite live streaming drawing a full house, there has been little monetisation so far. “For the moment, most are following a freemium model for live streaming. Some events are being organised on a ‘pay as you wish’ model, which lets people contribute any amount they wish to the artiste or cause,” says Roshan Abbas, MD, Geometry Encompass.
For now, almost all the events showcased on BookMyShow are free to view live. Albert Almeida, COO, live entertainment, BookMyShow, says, “If there is a new normal resulting in fewer numbers at live venues, we will have to look for models that meet the changing needs of the consumer, while addressing the commerce side of the entertainment business.”
Paytm Insider has begun charging a fee from those who want to tune into shows streamed live. The shows streaming via Zoom.us are priced at Rs 299-499.
Experts believe that people may opt to stay away from large gatherings even after the lockdown, and, hence, social media platforms will need to find ways to monetise the live stream format. “Social media and ticketing platforms need to set up the backend infrastructure to charge viewers to pay for content,” says Shah.
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