COVID-19 outbreak creating a huge user base for video streaming and conferencing services

Quarantines and work-from-home policies have triggered a spike in demand for video streaming and conferencing, creating a huge base of new users of over-the-top (OTT) services while usage by existing users has also gone up, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Aurojyoti Bose, Lead Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “For the foreseeable future, entertainment services such as Netflix, Disney, Hulu and Amazon Prime will rack up millions of subscribers as self-isolation and stay at home orders will fuel the demand for in home entertainment. Newer apps such as Peacock, Quibi and HBO Max have also been given the perfect opportunity to showcase their offerings, as viewers tend to relish novel content.

“Telecom and internet service providers have asked most OTT companies to reduce streaming in HD content and offer only standard definition content. Google search trends for Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Netflix and Hulu rose by more than 60% in March 2020 when compared to February 2020, and with several sporting events being called off, customers only have the option of streaming TV shows and movies. There has been such a huge rise in demand that OTT companies have decided to reduce bandwidth to mitigate network load.”

GlobalData’s news database found that Netflix and Disney were among the first companies to reduce bit rates or bandwidth. 

Amazon’s game streaming app Twitch has also gained traction during the outbreak with total amount of hours watched growing rapidly. YouTube game streams have also substantially gained viewers.

Another area benefitting from the lockdowns is video conferencing apps such as Zoom, which have rapidly gained traction with surging downloads on app stores. According to Zoom, daily users rose to 200 million in March 2020 when compared to ten million in December 2019.

Another Zoom alternative that has seen a significant rise in downloads is Houseparty. In mid-February, the app had around 25,000 downloads per day, and in mid-March, the number of downloads surpassed half a million per day. According to AT&T, WiFi calling has increased by 100% on its network, while mobile data usage is up 40%.

Bose concludes: “The demand for these systems is likely to continue growing while also putting strain on bandwidth. With entertainment services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Youtube voluntarily reducing bandwidth, office tool giant Microsoft has also announced a reduction in the bandwidth of 365 services and cloud migration. Due to the rise in WFH related services, governments have prioritized network usage for apps such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Slack.

“Despite Zoom growing rapidly, customers have been skeptical in its usage due to reports of security issues. Following this trend usage of alternate apps such as Google Hangouts have also risen.”

More Media