4 Ways Media and Entertainment Companies Can Navigate COVID-19

Streaming video content.

Image source: Adobe Stock / dmitrimaruta.

The fact that many people are working from home today due to COVID-19 is certainly impacting media and entertainment (M&E) brands — not just because people are consuming more content, but because employees at M&E companies must now completely rethink their operations, while still meeting audience needs.

It will likely come as little surprise that content consumption, including news, streaming video, web traffic and music streaming, has risen considerably in the COVID-19 environment. When consumers stay at home amid broadly disruptive events, their media consumption rises nearly 60% and even more in some cases, according to a Nielsen data analysis.

Below we dive into some of the ways that M&E companies can navigate this sea change, as more people work from home and media consumption trends continue to shift. And we firmly believe that firms focusing on how to best serve their audiences and employees will be the most successful when these challenging times pass.

Employee enablement

We know that employee experiences (EX) impact customer experiences (CX). In a crisis situation, the link between EX and CX grows stronger. Virtualizing and finding solutions for remote work across functions such as production, editing, digital experience, and more must be high priorities across media companies. And it shouldn’t be an interim solve, either. These challenging times make it clear — it’s time to move workflows online and into the cloud.

Brick-and-mortar service centers have closed, and call center staffing has been reduced to enforce social distancing. Customers are being urged to reduce high call volumes, which puts less of a strain on the customer service team. Leveraging interactive voice response, online platforms, and AI chatbots are some helpful solutions to continued customer service, without overwhelming your employees.

Building communities and enhancing relationships with consumers

Entertainment is often a communal experience. Friends watch movies together, and music fans attend concerts together. Now, since many live entertainment events are canceled, people want to be entertained at home. Creating options for social networking during the consumption of your content can help create community. Netflix, for example, is currently available to watch communally via a third-party extension.

Media and entertainment companies should consider alternative ways to extend courtesy to customers. Offering extended trial periods and free content (Shudder, Sundance Now, and Acorn TV are all doing this) can help build subscriber loyalty and may increase conversion to paid subscribers.

Responding to consumption dynamics

Shifts in viewing habits are pushing daytime TV consumption above typical patterns, and programmers are rapidly working to meet both viewer and advertiser demand. With an increase in TV viewership, there’s an opportunity for advertisers to reach a bigger captive audience with brand messaging — but it must be in good taste given the current climate.

Remember that in many states consumers can’t leave their homes to spend as readily now. As a result content producers are rethinking release schedules, content distribution and licensing approaches. For example, Disney altered the domestic box office release for “Onward” and made “Frozen 2” available for online streaming three months early.

As the new content pipeline slows, companies need to focus now on delivering the right content, offer, and messaging to the right customer to increase awareness. Data can be used to tailor recommendations and offerings to drive subscriber focus on cross-show targeting and renew interest in back-catalog viewership through enhanced discovery.

Understand your consumer’s context and sentiment

During times of crisis, content creators and publishers are tasked with providing timely, accurate news and information to subscribers. But beyond the information conveyance to consumers, it gives them an opportunity to evolve the overall customer experience in tangible ways.

For example, many people are now facing economic challenges and may have a hard-time paying cell-phone bills, internet bills, entertainment subscriptions, etc. Media and communication providers have responded by eliminating data caps (Sprint, T-Mobile), waiving late payment fees (Citi, Apple, Barclays), and suspending termination of service (AT&T, Comcast) for customers unable to pay bills for the near term.

Media companies can follow suit, to show customers that we are all trying to manage things during these trying times. And some already are. In fact, many broadcasters are using unsold ad inventory to deliver public service announcements to try to keep the public informed and safe. Publishers like The New York Times are providing free access to COVID-19 coverage, and Dish Network’s Sling TV is providing free news and entertainment content during this time as well.

M&E firms can be a guiding beacon of how to best serve the community in the journey forward

Historically speaking, media and entertainment has always played a role in lifting spirits and unifying people to come out of difficult times with renewed vigor and optimism. M&E companies focused on dedication to the very best in customer experience will lead the way in audience loyalty and viewership growth in the post-COVID-19 environment.