The novel coronavirus pandemic brought about years of digitalization in just a few months, marking an unexpected revolution in the field of information technology. As it shuttered malls and evacuated offices, millions across the globe moved their lives online. And as the social distancing directives became stricter, people explored the digital domain for both work and leisure. The question, then, remains how much of this digitalization will stick around?
Now, after a year and more that we return to a somewhat pre-pandemic life, what we’ve learned is how to adapt. We have learned to adapt to what we’re calling the new normal – celebrating birthdays using birthday video makers online and conducting conferences on Zoom, directing lectures and examinations on Google Classroom, shopping online, and many more. Given this new normal, the McKinsey report suggests that people today prefer interacting with their favorite companies by digital means alone. As the global population was suddenly forced to go digital, we’ve leaped five years forward.
Interestingly, the infrastructure for such a massive wave of digitization was always there before. Several digital services promised greater efficiency for getting things done, but the non-digital natives always preferred to stick to their hardcore values. The pandemic caused a paradigm shift in consumer behavior, forcing them to adopt digital technologies to maintain survival while also pushing the companies to embed digitization as a central component of their management strategy.
Live Streaming Surged During the Pandemic
Call it a crisis-inspired innovation; live streaming witnessed a significant surge during the COVID-19 pandemic. From television to streaming apps to social media platforms, live streaming’s true power was realized during the pandemic itself. As large-scale gatherings were called off, musicians and arts organizations started putting off live performances over streaming platforms. Fitness gurus also embraced live streaming platforms to live broadcast health and fitness sessions and promote a healthier lifestyle amid the lockdown environment. Offices shifted to living rooms, and corporate meetings and training started happening over Zoom. Schools shut down to transform into digital classrooms over Google. Gamers sought entertainment and even money-making prospects through live game streaming. That said, the pandemic essentially drove a massive increase in the overall audience for live content, paving the path towards what we now call the gig economy.
Fact File: Twitch witnessed a phenomenal 300% growth in some categories between March and April 2020, with overall industry growth of 45% in terms of hours watched.
Interestingly enough, with the rise of creator-focused social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, live streaming has unlocked creativity and collaboration of a type and scale never realized before. That said, several new platforms are emerging to exploit all of this demand, with Discord and Clubhouse leading the charge. These apps have inevitably helped a whole new cohort of live streaming superstars gain prominence and are already enabling content creators to earn good money.
Returning to the New Normal
Still, as physical services and channels resume, we will inevitably witness some of this digitization lip back and fade away. However, what’s even more interesting is that consumers have moved forward in terms of the digital experience and the level of sophistication they expect from the companies. Livestreaming has gained newfound relevance amid the pandemic, expanding opportunities for content creators within this space.
Without a doubt, live streaming has become a prominent and permanent feature on social networks and video sites. Moreover, it has emerged as a popular means for consumers to engage with their favorite brands and influencers, attend virtual events, watch exciting video game content, and even discover new products through live shopping. Do any of these sound like fading away any time soon? Well, give it a second thought!
Live streaming is an exploratory format for marketers and has become a central component of influencer marketing. As celebrities and influencers continue to partner with brands for virtual events and live shopping, live streaming holds immense potential even after the pandemic. Discovery shopping on Instagram has made it the new Amazon, and shoppable live streams on Amazon have made online shopping extraordinarily accessible and convenient.
Gamers, Musicians, and Artists
While the pandemic initially forced artists, musicians, and gamers to go virtual, it has changed access to entertainment forever. Virtual entertainment has become the small silver lining that has opened doors to people who might have otherwise not attended such events (concerts, art festivals, tours, etc.) because of geography or mobility, or even finances.
Closing doors of mosques, churches, synagogues, and temples was a significant setback to the religious communities back at the onset of the pandemic. However, live streaming made sure that their religious services were not shut down. Instead, religious groups flourished during the pandemic, spreading their message through new online channels. Communal gathering, congregational prayers, and confessions services are now live-streamed more effectively to reach out to a much larger audience than that of physical attendance – seniors, those with mobility issues, those with commuting problems, those who are geographically constrained, mothers who have to take care of small kids, and a lot more. Live streaming has evolved as the alternative format for attending religious services.
The pandemic fueled the rise of telemedicine to unprecedented heights previously unknown. Thanks to living streaming, healthcare professionals can now provide services while cutting costs, reaching out to under-accessed patients. While it gained momentum during the strict social distancing directive of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become the desirable route to access healthcare today. Providers can deliver high-quality live videos, whether through one-on-one video calls or web conferences and live streams.
As the pandemic restrictions continue to loosen up, and as we increasingly return to the physical modes of interaction in the new normal, the percentage of digital uptake is not going away anytime soon. In the past, maintaining online presence used to be optional, but today it has become necessary. While marketers and other consumer groups are on the hunt for viable alternative live streaming platforms, live streaming services such as OneStream Live are on the mission to introduce user-friendly, unique, and innovative features that can eventually magnify the overall live streaming experience of their customers. With consumers reaching high levels of digital penetration in almost every facet of life, live streaming is here to stay, even post-pandemic.
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