The COVID-19 pandemic has had an immense impact on the digital content market and how digital content producers operate within it. Consumer habits have changed, with many people having much more free time and seeking out entertainment to occupy it. The types of content people are demanding are also shifting, with many looking for news and advice on the pandemic and how to keep safe, but many others wanting to avoid the negativity present in a lot of news and politics at the moment. People are changing the times and places they consume content, as well as which devices they consume it on, and members of various demographics are trying out content types they might have previously ignored. So what types of content are doing well right now?
COVID-19 news and advice
Video and text content relating to COVID-19 is understandably popular right now, with consumers looking for advice on staying safe, tutorials on how to make home remedies and supplies, and news on the state of the pandemic. But while demand for this content is high, it can sometimes be challenging or inadvisable to monetize. YouTube, for example, has relaxed its ban on monetizing COVID-19 content, but still requires videos on the subject to meet certain criteria – they cannot contain distressing footage, medical misinformation, or pranks and challenges. Digital content producers on YouTube need to be sure they are providing accurate information and not capitalizing on unscientific health advice or risk being demonetized.
Even when working on a platform that doesn’t have these restrictions, digital content creators should be mindful of what they put out and how they monetize it. Home remedies and unverified information can generate huge amounts of views and interactions as people look for anything that might help keep themselves and their loved ones safe. However, if a company becomes known for putting out unreliable information, it risks losing its audience or facing repercussions from the platforms it uses.
Another way to get on an audience’s bad side is gating content behind paywalls – demonetizing useful information about COVID-19 may mean losing out on potential revenue, but it can also benefit the community by making that information easily available and create goodwill towards the brand. Consumers may be more likely to pay for other content if they have a favorable impression of the company’s behavior and the quality of its content.
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Instruction and entertainment
It’s also possible for digital content producers to capitalize on the pervasiveness of the coronavirus without making the pandemic itself the main focus. Many people are looking for tutorials and suggestions for things to do around the home while they have more free time and are unable or reluctant to visit facilities such as gyms or hire professional help. As such, popular digital content includes home DIY tutorials, recipes and cooking advice, and fitness routines. Many consumers are also looking for content that will help entertain and educate their children, or provide them with ideas on how to do so themselves.
There are other types of content that aren’t related to COVID-19 but are still seeing a boost in popularity due to pandemic. Many consumers are looking for positive and entertaining subject matter such as comedy and music, as well as content that highlights positive news and events in order to counteract the stress and bad news that ends up being discussed so frequently. Video entertainment as a whole is also very popular right now, with platforms such as Netflix receiving substantially more views and subscriptions than before the pandemic.
Gaming and streaming
Video games of all types are unsurprisingly in high demand as well. Mobile game downloads, purchases, and play times are up, especially but not exclusively among younger demographics. Console and PC games have likewise seen significant increases in purchases and engagement, both from consumers who already played video games and now have more time to devote to them, as well as from first-time players looking for something new to do. Viewership has also risen for streaming sites such as Twitch, with more people than ever watching video game content.
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All of this activity has the potential to benefit video game companies, streamers, and platforms well after the end of the pandemic: it’s a good time to bring in new consumers who otherwise might not have tried a particular game or even been interested in the medium in the past. Someone who starts playing now may develop an interest in a brand or the medium as a whole that could last for years. Therefore, making video games more accessible through discounts, giveaways, free trials, and cross-platform releases could have significant long-term benefits.
Digital content production challenges
All of these potential opportunities do come with drawbacks, of course, as the prevalence of the coronavirus, enforced lockdowns, and physical distancing in place in many regions slow or halt content production. Content that requires live actors, crew, and sets is challenging if not impossible to produce safely, while those who can work from home still face challenges in terms of equipment, software, communication, distractions, and other matters that require more time and attention than normal. As such, actually creating content to take advantage of the increased consumer base is often anything but straightforward for digital content producers.
Many individuals and companies are finding ways to make things work, however, such as filming at home with a reduced or non-existent crew or working in the office with increased safety practices in place. Consumers are more willing to accept lower production values at this time due to COVID-19 restrictions, and will likely appreciate having more content from creators and brands they’re invested in.
However, delays in previously announced content could still have a negative impact – while many consumers will be understanding about such delays, others won’t, and digital content producers may see some fans leave due to frustration or simply forgetting about the product if it doesn’t come out when expected. This is where tools such as subscriptions, wish lists, and newsletters can be useful to keep customers in the ecosystem, provide progress updates, and alert them when new content is released.
COVID-19 has brought both challenges and opportunities for digital content producers and consumers alike. Keeping in touch with consumers and making creative use of available resources can help companies put out relevant content to satisfy audience demand. In an industry expected to grow by hundreds of billions of dollars over the next few years and with demand reaching unprecedented heights, there are many openings for creators of all sizes to maintain and grow their follower bases if they keep on top of what the market wants.