A recent survey by Limelight Networks’ says that Indians on an average consume eight hours and 28 minutes of online video content every week. This is 20 minutes more than the time we spend watching television on a weekly basis. In general, our online content consumption is much higher than the global average of six hours and 45 minutes per week. It also marks a 58 percent rise from the 2016 figures, as per an NDTV report.

But what has led to this massive shift in the consumption of online video content? Keeping the data and studies aside, here are five reasons, which I think as a viewer have prompted this shift from television to the online medium.

Access to affordable smartphones

In India, the affordable smartphone revolution has played a big part in causing the shift from television to digital content. As the above-stated study says, while consumers from western nations like Germany, France and the UK prefer computers as their video viewing device, consumers from eastern nations including India, Singapore and South Korea prefer viewing it via their smartphones. Pocket-friendly smartphones have made digital content accessible to everyone. While there may be one or two laptops or television sets in a household, on an average almost every adult member in an Indian family owns a smartphone. Our phones have ended our dependency on televisions for the consumption of online video content.

SOME TAKEAWAYS

  • Limelight Networks’ survey says that we are consuming an average of eight hours 28 minutes of online video content each week. This is 20 minutes more than the time we spend watching television on a weekly basis.
  • Pocket-friendly smartphones have made digital content accessible to everyone. 
  • Portable viewing has made it possible to not have to wait for either your turn at the remote control, or for the kids to be down for the day.

Portable Entertainment

With smartphones, laptops and tablets, our entertainment has become portable. We can consume online videos on the go. Especially in megacities, where most of us spend hours on the commute, portable entertainment is almost a necessity today. Another factor is the kind of videos we are consuming. Today we aren’t just consuming videos on platforms like YouTube or Netflix, but on social media as well. The bulk of viral or popular videos which we view on a day-to-day basis come our way via social media. Also most online video platforms allow you to download content for offline viewing, which only gives it more brownie points.

Online content is no longer even restricted by net connectivity, or availability of free Wifi.

Consumption is not restricted by scheduling

The biggest grudge my aunt has against watching daily soaps on television, is that all her favourite prime time dailies have the same time slot. General entertainment is bound by a schedule, when it comes to television. Which means that you have other things to do when your favourite show telecasts on television.

On the other hand online viewing experience is not bound by a telecast schedule. This has led a lot of television viewers to watch the shows being telecast on their idiot box, on an online platform. Why compromise, when you can view the content of your choice, as per your convenience? Besides, online viewing experience, as of yet, is smoother, sans all the unnecessary ad breaks.

Vast and varying content

As viewers we want content which is worthy of our time and attention. For a generation which demands worth of every second it devotes to you, all television has to offer us today is shouting matches on news channels, saas-bahu, naagins and aliens crying rivers in name of daily soaps, and reruns of movies good enough to put your brain into a vegetative state. Most people today crave for a lot more than that.

This desire for good content has caused many Indian networks to launch their own video on demand platforms.

These platforms cater to viewers who crave for quality and not quantity. The vast and varying line up of content has managed to lure in a generation of new age viewers. People who are sick of flipping channels for hours, till they find something which can entertain them for a few minutes have taken to this offering greedily.

Rise in individual viewing trends

Gone are the days when viewing television was a family activity. So while the matriarch in traditional households is having her dose of daily soaps, or the patriarch wants to watch his fill of news, the younger members, who are too polite to demand a change in channel, won’t just sulk and endure. They will flip out their smartphones and consume online content as per their liking.

The individual viewing trend is the result of a limited time we all have on our hands for entertainment. We have our priorities on what we want to watch. And online viewing has made it possible to not have to wait for either your turn at the remote control, or for the kids to be down for the day.

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own.

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