OTT in the Age of Covid

By Norbert Kaczmarek, Key Account Manager, Insys Video Technologies

The video industry is currently experiencing a surge in viewing due to the global pandemic. With more people spending more (and in most cases all their) time at home, it is no wonder that subscribers have grown and viewer figures increased. According to a recent report by Strategy Analytics, subscriptions to Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) services are due to reach 949 million in 2020, 5% more than they would have otherwise reached. 

The outlook is repeated across the globe. In Poland, where Insys is based, the four main incumbents – Netflix,, TVN’s player, and nc+GO, have all seen a significant increase in subscriptions since lockdown began in March. How can video providers ensure they are keeping consumers happy and engaged in the current circumstances, and beyond?

Changing User Behaviour

It is not surprising that self-isolation and social distancing have led to a change in consumer behavior. Families are at home together and having to adapt to a new normal. People are working from home while juggling home education or keeping very young children entertained. It also means normal social after work activities are on hold. 

All of this means the way the day is planned has totally shifted and many people are not simply working 9-5. With everyone at home all at once and with different viewing habits within the family, being able to view content on different devices to keep everyone happy is increasingly important. 

OTT platforms that not only give consumers the ability to dip in and out to find the content they want when they want to but also deliver to multiple devices will undoubtedly prove popular for this new normal. 

What functionalities are important during quarantine?

The way people engage with video is undoubtedly differing during the quarantine. The family that normally insists on allotted TV time as a family on the big screen is likely to be more flexible and allow viewing on individual screens, especially where educational content is concerned. 

These new behavior patterns are driving demand for certain functionalities from an OTT platform. Video providers looking to keep subscribers engaged and grow that subscriber base need to ensure they can cater for these. 


An increase in distractions in the home means that consumers want to be able to pause and rewind live TV channels more than ever. Live content remains important, especially news but consumers can often not guarantee they will be able to continue watching without being disturbed, be it by a conference call or a child needing support. 

Catch-up and nPVR

Viewers who may otherwise have been used to watching their favorite programs on a linear channel at a specific time every week will find that their schedule has totally shifted and that may just not be feasible right now. They need the flexibility to watch those programs whenever they have time. In the same way, being able to record live content and watch it later will be important to many people. 

VOD content and personalization

More than anything, consumers are looking for a large selection of content to watch. There is no shortage of content, from films that are being streamed straight to the home following cinema closures, and the latest series. However, too much content can make it challenging for consumers to choose what to watch. Being able to offer personalized content recommendations makes that much easier and greatly shortens the discovery phase for consumers.

Local Content

Lockdown restrictions mean that consumers are no longer able to walk into the local town and chat with neighbors. That means they want local content to keep in tune with their local area.

Can OTT Still be Monetized?

Of course, while we are in the grips of a global pandemic, video service providers still need to monetize their services to keep their businesses going. So how can that be achieved?

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to monetize services and the best approach will depend on a number of factors, including the attractiveness of the content, target audience, and existing subscriber base. 

Here are our top recommendations:

Try and Buy 

This is a good approach for attracting new subscribers. By allowing them a free trial period you get their interest in signing up to test it out. The hope is that by serving them the content they want, they will likely remain subscribed beyond the trial.

Feature Packages

OTT providers can consider offering premium features as an add-on package. As mentioned, consumers are currently demanding features that allow them to record, pause, and rewind live TV as well as catch-up services. Packaging these up could make for an attractive offering that consumers are willing to pay for. 


Giving consumers the ability to enable multiroom access to the same service is also really attractive and can be offered as an add-on feature. 


Adverts continue to be a good way to monetize video services. AVOD has the added advantage of enabling free access to consumers and can likely, therefore, attract a bigger subscriber base. Services with strong subscriber bases will also do well at attracting new advertisers keen to reach as many people as possible. Being able to personalize those ads will make the offering more attractive to advertisers. 

Marketing your Service

Quite simply if consumers don’t know about your service, or the add-on features and packages, they can’t subscribe. Now is the time to ensure that you are in the public eye. Social media is a very effective tool for public awareness. In-service, push messages can make consumers aware of new content or packages. 

Finding the Right Balance

As with everything right now, it is about finding the right balance. Consumers are demanding good content while also having the flexibility to watch it when they want. However, the global economy has been greatly impacted by coronavirus therefore OTT providers need to carefully consider the cost factor at the same time without sacrificing quality.