Posted on November 6, 2021 at 10:45 pm

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India’s Entertainment Sector Struck Down by COVID but Digital Sector Rises Up

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India’s entertainment sector shrunk by almost 25% in 2020 due to COVID-19. However, in a report produced by report the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and EY, the dip may only be temporary. TV and movies felt the brunt of lockdown restrictions. Bollywood only released 441 movies in 2020, compared to 1,883 in 2019. That caused revenue to slump 62% from $2.6 billion to $997 million. As well as output dropping, up to 1,500 cinemas across India closed due to the pandemic.

The lifting of restrictions and the gradual decrease in COVID-19 infections has allowed Bollywood studios to return to a semblance of normality. Although they are far from full capacity, movies such as Antim: The Final Truth are giving movie-goers something to look forward to in 2021. However, perhaps the most interesting thing to come out of India’s entertainment crisis is the move towards digital content. As noted in the FICCI report, TV and movie producers have put more resources into streaming platforms over the last 18 months.

Digital Entertainment Blossoms in India

As such, digital revenue almost doubled in 2020 to $483 million. This trend is likely to continue as Netflix et al invest more money in India. Indeed, the list of Hindi and Tamil shows and movies on Netflix is growing all the time. From Sacred Games to Navarasa, India is fast becoming a hub for Netflix original content. Interestingly, this move towards digital entertainment doesn’t start and end with Netflix. Indians are becoming increasingly connected to a variety of Western trends.

Online casino gaming, for example, is gaining traction in India. Statista data from 2018 found that 260 million Indians had gambled online at least once. A report from Maple Capital Advisors built on this and estimated that online casino gaming in India was worth $930 in 2020. With licensed operators such as NetBet and Royal Panda Casino making online gambling in India more accessible to the masses, it’s likely to become a booming industry in the wake of COVID-19. Indeed, with welcome bonuses topping ₹16,000 and sites offering hundreds of games, it’s easy to see why Maple Capital Advisors predicts 41% growth by 2024.

Streaming Creates New Forms of Entertainment

Spotify is also tapping into India’s digital entertainment revolution. The music streaming platform went live in India back in 2019. It attracted 2 million customers in its first year. However, when the pandemic struck and people turned to the internet for their entertainment, the platform grew. Spotify subsequently launched a new premium subscription package in December 2020. Costing ₹119 a month, the package allows users to download songs and stream ad-free content.

This innovation, coupled with the digital revolution, has helped Spotify’s Indian userbase grow by 3X in two years. Moreover, it stands as another way in which India’s entertainment industry can bounce back after the pandemic. Bollywood may still be suffering but other parts of the industry, including gaming and music, are thriving. That’s good news for the industry and, moreover, good news for Indians wanting new forms of entertainment.

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