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“It is an opportunity to build a habit of non-linear entertainment”

Industry veteran Sameer Nair dissects the impact of COVID-19 on the entertainment industry, and the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead

Did you see Katrina Kaif washing vessels? She does it no differently, except maybe by filling the sink with soapy water to conserve water. She posted it on Instagram, to stay connected during the lockdown. Malaika Arora shared how she cooks Malabari stew and Akshay Kumar (dressed as a tree?) showed how to spend quality time with your partner. (As an aside, do people actually wear tropical-looking clothes before sagging into a hammock? Maybe celebrities do.) While other businesses are shrivelling up under the heat of this pandemic, entertainment industry seems to be seeing divided fortunes. On the one hand, new content is difficult to generate and monetise (with ad revenues set to plunge) and on the other, people are gobbling down whatever is available at a faster rate. According to a Nielsen and BARC study, average daily viewership for television grew by 32 million from January 11-31 to March 14-20. The time spent per user per week on video-on-demand apps has also seen an increase of 3%. To understand how the industry sees its future panning out, Outlook Business caught up with Applause Entertainment CEO Sameer Nair.

Could you give us a sense of the impact that COVID-19 has had on the entertainment industry, especially considering that summer is one of the best performing seasons?
It is actually a bit of a Hobson’s choice (of taking what is available or nothing) here. All production and post-production work has been stalled. Moreover, for the entertainment industry, the shutdown started a week before the 21-day lockdown. Therefore, no new content is being created right now. Meanwhile, now that everyone is locked inside their homes, they tend to watch television or stream content on other platforms. The streaming services are seeing a larger audience because they still have new material. For the television industry, there is video subscription revenue a

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