The impact of COVID-19 has been felt in every part of the world. It has upended everyday lives, forcing millions of people to reset their routine and adapt to a new normal. As people worldwide hunkered down and spent more time at home, they also began looking for creative ways to establish a sense of normalcy.
Central to life in the new normal has been video streaming. A trend that was previously driven by entertainment needs – such as Netflix and YouTube – has fast-tracked into new behaviours as many turned to video streaming to collaborate for work, access information and even to pursue hobbies.
In a new consumer survey by a global content delivery network (CDN) provider, ‘How Video is Changing the World 2020’, 93% of Singaporeans whom spent nearly 5 hours a day viewing online video concur that the use of video has helped them maintain a daily routine and enjoy activities they did before COVID-19. This particular impact on online video consumption in Singapore is one of the highest in the world.
In these unpredictable times, the increasing prevalence of online video for personal use as well as in business is not expected to change anytime soon. Looking ahead, the emergence of new consumption habits and behaviours presents a tipping point for businesses to gain a competitive share in the digital space through online videos.
Streaming for news updates and critical information
Along with the spread of the virus came a surge in appetite for information and news from online sources including the government agencies and public health entities. In Singapore, eight in ten (80%) have used online video during the pandemic to stay informed by streaming speeches and press conferences from social media sites and online news sites.
Overnight, news media companies and broadcasters raced to reinvent their operating models to digital video and live streams to keep audiences informed across different mediums. The digital-first approach also cascaded into Singapore’ political campaigning period as debates and exchanges of viewpoints were played out in front of a nation behind their screens.
Given the tremendous rise in streaming traffic coming from breaking news that receive huge viewership, news companies and broadcasters need to ensure broadband speeds and connectivity hold up to deliver video content with minimal latency. This is especially pertinent at a time when success is measured by the generation of new revenue streams, increase in viewer engagement and total viewership.
Remote everything through online videos
Online video has also enabled new forms of entertainment to help people pass time and unplug from the chaos that we're in today. With live events cancelled, 40% of Singaporeans attended their first virtual concert. Exercising has also gone virtual as workout facilities and gyms remain closed. In fact, 38% of Singaporeans have participated in an online fitness class and another 25% plan to do so in the next six months.
From a home workout to video-based learning and live virtual concert, instructors and professional musicians are exploring the use of live videos to forge a closer connection with their viewers. Whilst online video may be an avenue for business continuity, it is expected to evolve into a potential cost-saving channel as instructors and event organisers realise they can operate without renting physical facilities, whilst audiences enjoy the convenience and safety of participating from home.
This will eventually have an impact on the business models, as the audience will expect more interactive and personalised social experience such as a live chat with video streaming. To improve audience engagement and maximise conversion, the user interface as well as infrastructure will need to be secure whilst performing at scale.
To allow for consistent performance and user experience across devices, a CDN partner will be able to help package and distribute live and on-demand video content more efficiently at the highest quality to as many viewers as possible. Working with a partner with additional capacity and employs sophisticated quality of service (QoS) as well as congestion control techniques will be critical in supporting growing streaming demands and to mitigate negative effects under extraordinary conditions like the current pandemic.
Marking an era of virtual care
Telehealth has been making waves in recent years as an alternative model to improve accessibility to healthcare. But in the midst of social distancing, telehealth has reached an inflection point where adoption is on the rise to minimise face-to-face interactions. What was once a testbed to alleviate the pressure on the healthcare system is now an essential service adopted by patients, especially the vulnerable elderly, to continue receiving care.
Since the outbreak in Singapore, doctor’s visits have shifted to telehealth appointments with 14% of people saying they’ve recently met virtually with their doctor and another 27% planning to do so in the next six months, according to the report. With COVID-19 accelerating the adoption of telehealth, there is an opportunity for providers to proactively assess its infrastructure to ensure the solution is reliable in changing circumstances.
Video has increasingly become part of our daily lives in many ways and is expected to have far-reaching changes on how people entertain, socialise and work post the pandemic. To capture market share today and into the future, content creators and distributors need to ensure they are capable of handling heavy video traffic demand and expand their delivery capacity when needed.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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As the Regional Director of Southeast Asia at Limelight Networks, Edwin Koh is responsible for the overall business strategic direction and business growth with a focus on digital experiences. He has worked with various major Media & Entertainment, OTT and E-commerce companies, providing solutions for live video streaming, VOD, edge computing, web acceleration, cloud storage and security services.
His experience and expertise include digital business transformations, video solutions and cloud services. Prior to joining Limelight in 2016, he has over a decade of experience in the Cloud, E-commerce and Datacenter segment. Edwin is based in Singapore and holds a Bachelor Degree in Business Management and Law from the University of London.