Future of Media & Entertainment: A New Beginning: Post Covid-19

By Pickle  June 21, 2020

What will be the new normal? What happens to Indian Media and Entertainment and other pastimes? Writer, filmmaker & media guru Amit Khanna find answers to these questions, as he spells out how M&E sector will fare in a post-Covid-19 world

By Amit Khanna

In the past 5000 years, there have been perhaps less than 50 watershed events which have changed human history and life on the planet. Every mythology has its own definition of such epic events. Arguably in the 20th century, the most cataclysmic changes were triggered by the two World Wars. In retrospect, it is the Great War of 1914-18 (together with the Spanish Flu which was co-terminus with its end) perhaps is the most moment which changed the way we had lived earlier. Let’s not forget there are several modern inventions which came into use around the same time. Wireless and railways (a little earlier), Electricity, Telephone, Penicillin, Insulin, Processed food, Automobiles, Planes, Recorded music, Films, Radio, Television, Home appliances etc. It was also the first time when almost the entire world was impacted by the war in a far-reaching manner. Life changed forever. But, this was only expedited by rapid changing geopolitics economy and technology, which followed in the next few years until Second
World War.

It was during the same time mass media enabled mass entertainment for the first time ever. The spectacular rise of newspapers, radio, films and — a little later — TV is virtually how humans continue to amuse themselves. In the last three decades, rapid digitalisation has not only changed media formats but given birth to the Internet, the present-day fountain head of information and entertainment. A 100 years later, a simple virus, COVID-19 or Coronavirus is about to change much of this. Let me stick my head out and say nothing in our past has altered our lives as much as the present pandemic. Germaine to this article is the way entertainment will emerge in the post Coronavirus world. If the last month, where almost the entire world is under lockdown, is any indication, the change will be much more than what we can even imagine at this stage. Existing occupations, jobs, habits, pastimes in fact from economy to lifestyle will change. It’s like looking into space and not blue skies. How does one predict what will happen?


Media & Entertainment is a $2 trillion industry worldwide and $35 billion in India. Here, it is also one of the largest employers providing jobs to around 5 million people besides offering indirect employment to another 5 million. However, more than the financial aspect, while media is the news and information lifeline for the nation, entertainment keeps people engaged for over 5-6 hours a day. Entertainment is the safety valve of an overstressed society. A billion-plus people are hooked on to various devices, from a mobile phone to TV set, watching some programming. Over a crore of people visit a cinema theatre every day. Millions of others listen to the radio, attend live performances or play an online game. Countless folk artistes, classical musicians and dancers, puppeteers, acrobats drama troupes keep us entertained every day. From the beginnings of history, entertainment is one of humans’ great obsession. From creativity to commerce it’s an all-embracing activity.

Or they did till the coronavirus triggered a lockdown. What will happen when this Armageddon is over? How will people live after the 21st century Mahabharata ends? What will be the new normal? What happens to Media and Entertainment and other pastimes?

Let’s look at Cinema. I think visiting cinemas will now be an event rather than a casual outing. India has too few screens, only 9000 for such a large country, so they won’t shut down. However, new social distancing norms, for example, leaving every alternate seat blank, wearing masks may be mandatory, thermal checks, sanitisation and deep cleaning between shows will help in instilling confidence among cinema goers. Ticket booking and Food & Beverage sales will become online rather than physical sales to avoid crowding. Similarly, show timings will be staggered to avoid large gathering of people in and around the cinemas. Cinemas will be the weekly out of home experience for most Indians.


What about films themselves? India presently makes 2000 films annually, of which less than half are released theatrically. This number is not sustainable. Going forward, not more than 200 to 300 films across languages will release in cinemas. The rest will have to rework their economics and work on a non-theatrical model. Increasingly, the number of films online through streaming services will increase dramatically. However, there is a limit to how much programming can one consume in a day. Some estimates suggest that 6 hours of engagement via multiple screens is the optimum for most people in a day. This engagement includes everything from social media, news, TV, gaming and films. While the pie will keep growing, the slices will become smaller. Talent and others in the value chain across various stakeholders have to rework their numbers.

Coming to television. Linear broadcasting already had an expiry date looming large. In India, it was still a decade away. This equation will change. I am not saying that TV channels will shut down. But, it’s time the broadcasters concentrate on lesser channels and more on compelling content. Competing programming, for example, talent contests by the dozen cannot survive. The same endless family sagas will disappear with audience fatigue faster. Attention deficit will yield to new social pressures. Most TV programmers in India have failed to innovate and will suffer consequently. Lazy creativity will just not work.


Driven by the false security of TV ratings, advertisers and their media buyers have been recklessly pumping money in mediocre content. In the new post-Corona world, lifestyle choices will drive up eyeballs but monetizing of these eyeballs will share and far more divided. The total number of hours of traditional broadcasting will increase in the immediate term but then, very quickly, the slide will begin.

For news, topicality is what determines viewership. The loss of credibility of TV news is directly linked to the personal biases of the channel and its anchors. I see the tendency of getting a dozen talking heads (all half-baked experts) night after night as a recipe for disaster in the time to come. With curated news available on the fly, apps like Google News and Daily Hunt will become the primary source of news.

Viewing habits are already changing among certain segments of the audience. The younger demographic is tuning on TV sets. More people will switch to on-demand viewing much quicker than before in the post-pandemic world. Increased bandwidth is just a matter of a year or so and data prices will continue to be among the cheapest in the world. In spite of an increase in data prices at least half the audience will engage with online content most of the time.

Digital entertainment so far in India has been dominated by short-form video and music. In recent months especially since the lockdown, there has been a sharp rise in streaming subscribers as well as time spent on such services. One of the reasons for the slow offtake of streaming video in India has been the wrong content. A minute section of the audience, the early adopters of Netflix, Amazon etc may be hooked on to dark content both foreign and Indian. However, the mainstream audience is still looking for entertainment they are used too.


Of course one can move beyond banal overproduced and gauche soaps, but drama and romantic comedies are what will drive viewership in India. It is a matter of months before bosses at Netflix, Amazon, Disney, Apple, Sony and a handful of Indian platforms like MX Player, Zee 5 and Alt realise this and revamp their programming. Whether they have the financial muscle to scale up is another question. India is too big a market to dump elitist programming.

Even the stand-up comedy shows on a few of these platforms are too tangential for the large family audience in India. Gratuitous violence and profanity don’t make the programming appealing or engaging for a vast majority of Indians. A section of younger demographic especially the non-English speaking elite rather watch Savita Bhabhi clones on YouTube on their mobile phones than some of the zombie and dark content on streaming platforms. While online gaming globally is a huge business over USD 150 billion, in India it is relatively small. It will expand exponentially in the years to come. My prediction is it will be a USD 5 billion Industry in 3 to 5 years. Social media is spawning not only junk but more of the same. Ennui is a matter of time. How much of short-form video and trolling are self-destructing themselves to boredom?

One segment which will suffer a lot is Live entertainment and Live sport. For months they may remain an embargo in any event which requires large gatherings in closed spaces. Social distancing, masks, health checks and sanitisation are here to stay. The more worrying thing is that people, by and large, will be reluctant to venture out for live events in the years to come. A weak global economy with substantial job losses and wage cuts will not only lead to the tightening of belts but a change in discretionary spending habits. The silver lining for Event managers is the recent attempts at virtual concerts, performances and events. These may miss the vibe of live events but if executed well they can for a lot of people become a healthy alternative. The recent concerts- Sangeet Setu- organised by the Indian Singers Association (ISA) is one example of how virtual concerts may evolve.


One of the biggest revenue earners entertainment is Live sports. From the Olympics to IPL, soccer and basketball almost every sport has both National and International tournaments and matches. In future, these will happen in controlled environments with far fewer spectators. Of course live broadcast and streaming will continue to attract eyeballs, sponsors and advertisers. In course of time stadia and arena with adequate health safeguards may be built to allow audience participation. I am worried about the way our traditional melas and religious fairs will shape up. It is impossible to have social distancing on such occasions at all. Some via media will emerge in due course. Folk artistes must be found in another form of monetisation to survive.

Some other segments like radio, OOH including billboards and digital displays, will carry on but advertising pressures will be an issue. Book fair, literary and film festivals are the other areas of concern. No matter how we wish the fear unleashed by Coronavirus is not going away soon if ever. I believe people will reprioritise their lives. Economic havoc is going to render millions jobless. Most of them do not have the wherewithal or the ability to reskill themselves. Even if they do find alternate employment or occupation they will in all likely earn less than earlier. We have already seen the first pink slips and salary cuts being announced across the media Industry. People will go out less, spend less, make alternative choices which means existing paradigms will change. Will all of them go back to buying newspapers anymore or simply switch to watching and reading news on TVs and smartphones? Will they subscribe to fewer channels. Will they cut down on going out? No one has the answers, but quite likely.


In India advertising drives Media. I feel the ad spend will rise but its existing distribution will alter drastically. The reallocation will be much swifter than it would have been. Conventional metrics won’t work. For the next few years, the Economy will be under stress. Marketers will have to innovate to sell. The professional elite in Media & Industry too will have to take haircuts. Budgets will be redrawn. In films, stars will have to forgo part of their high salaries. Their entourages will have to be pruned. Lavish sets and wasteful extravagance in production of all content will have to lean towards frugal efficiency. The number of award shows, conferences, junkets even holidays will be truncated. Redundancies will leave the Industry badly mauled.

I am not predicting doomsday, only reset of existing norms. Yes, in 10 years from now global GDP will be at an all-time high and India will be a 10 trillion economy. The problem will be a lot of us will be on the side-lines nursing lost opportunities. This is the time to unlearn, relearn and reskill. Ideologies, history, dreams will change. We are about to see humanity reset.

(Credit: This article by Amit Khanna was originally published in exchange4media.com)

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


IFFI Marching Towards 50th Edition

India Rolls out Red Carpet to Foreign Filmmakers

Heard About Enjoy Enjaami. Here it is

Dada Saheb Award Gets Rajinikanth

MIPTV Director Lucy Smith Gives Sneak Peak of Digital MIPTV

What Buyers Expect From Digital MIPTV

China Eyes Animation Content at MIPTV

Sikkim is India’s Most Film Friendly State

National Film Awards: Sushant Singh’s Chichchore, Dhanush, Manoj Bajpayee, Kangana Among Winners

UNESCO, USO India, Toonz tie up for World Water Day Animation Creation

Virtual Pre-Cannes Screenings For Buyers Before July Physical Market

Accreditations Are Open For Cannes 2021

Stage set for Cannes from July 6. Spike Lee, Cannes Jury Head

Matchmaking Biz Accelerator At Digital MIPTV 2021

MIPTV 2021 Trend: Increasing Demand for Distribution & Co-Production

MIPTV honours A+E Networks president Paul Buccieri

Thanu For Making Producers’ Mission Possible

Mehrunisa Aims more Destinations

Delhi Photographer Sohrab Hura’s Film The Coast in Berlinale’s Forum Expanded

Berlinale Talents 2021: Nine Talents from India

Tamil Film Pebbles by Vinothraj Wins Tiger Award at Rotterdam

Re-Imagined European Film Market 2021

EFM Global Market Screenings in Tokyo, Melbourne, Sao Paulo, Mexico

Berlinale Co-Prod Market: 35 Films from 25 Countries

Books at Berlinale 2021: 10 Books will be Pitched for Screen Adaptation

Highlights: Berlinale Series Market & Conference

Uday Shankar forms New Tech and Media Venture with James Murdoch

With Film Visa, Global Producers Can Now Shoot in India

CII Seeks Industry Status for M&E in Union Budget

51st IFFI Will Capture New Narratives in Cinema

15 Films Compete for Golden Peacock at #IFFI51

Top IFFI Picks: Another Round, Mehrunisa, Wife of A Spy

Hybrid IFFI From January 16

CII BIG PICTURE SUMMIT 2012: Growth Triggers From Ronnie

What Media Guru Amit Khanna Said in CII BIG PICTURE SUMMIT 2012

LATAM Market Ventana Sur from November 30

Blue Efficience Roped in For Ventana Sur

Films to watch @ Ventana Sur

Ramesh Sharma’s New Documentary Film on Gandhi at AFM

The Warrior Queen of Jhansi at AFM

www.cinemarket.io – Buy, Sell & Engage

Embracing Cinema Through Screens of all Sizes

Nomadland wins People’s Choice at Toronto

MIPCOM 2020 Goes Entirely Online

South Korea will be MIPCOM 2020 country of honor

India, the Window of Opportunity

Get Ready for Hybrid IFFI

Film Making Centres of India

Get Your Film Take Wings at Virtual Film Bazaar

Make at least Ten co-productions in a year

Filmmakers Should Make use of India-Canada Treaty

TIFF: The Show and Business Goes on

Navigating Toronto Film Festival and Industry

Make in India, Show the World

Be Part of the Pickle India Focused Toronto Edition

ads2OTT set to Launch in Oct 2020

MovieSaints to release Memories of a Forgotten War

Truth Is Dead

Submissions Open For Berlinale Co-Production Market

Gender Equality-Berlinale Eliminates Silver Bear for Best Actor and Best Actress

All3Media, A+E Networks, BBC Studios, ZDF Join MIPCOM 2020 Global UPFRONTS Lineup

NürnbergMesse’s Content India Show from October 29-31

Berlinale 2021 Will be a Physical Festival; EFM in Hybrid Format

Best of 2020: A Dazzling Dozen

Striking the Right Chord

Ishaan Khatter looking ‘beyond clouds’ with promising upcoming projects

IFFI 2020 Adopts Hybrid Online-Physical Edition

India Unbound

20 Films That Make us Believe Freedom is Priceless

Krishna Janmashtami Special

National Education Policy: Game Changer

18 Must-See Films at Venice 2020

Ayushmann Turns Athlete

Indian Trio in Venice

Blockchain: The Future is Now

Not right time to open cinema halls: Ravi Kottarakara

Meet, ERICA. AI Actor in a SCI-FI Film

Vidya Balan Set to Shine as Shakuntala Devi

Straight Answers From Alexander Shulgin

Content is king for Saregama’s Yoodlee

Nuggets From Animation Thought Leaders

NYIFF Takes Virtual Route

From The Heart Of Disney

New Model of Filmmaking in India

My Journey: How I Did It

Animation in the Age of Art & Tech

Making Filming in India More Easy

Gaurav Banerjee: Star Unveiled

FDI cap of 26% for News Aggregators Under Consideration

The Changemaker

COVID-19 has Accelerated Digital Shift Towards Across Sectors

No Business as Usual for Film Industry

What’s Wrong With our News Media Today ?

The Fire Inside Regina

Gaming Industry Braves Covid

Disney +Hotstar Leads the Disruption

Taapsee’s takes on OTT, Nepotism & Covid

Oscar Invites QUBE’s Senthil Kumar to be its Member at Large

What’s New Search Engine Neeva Can Do That Google Cannot?

The New Oscar Award Date April 25, 2021

India to Offer Incentive Package for Film Shoots and Co-Production

‘NFDC Film Bazaar Goes to Cannes’

Strings of Genius

A Ray That Still Lights The Way

Best of the Cannes Official Selection 2020 Films

Most Awaited Films of India

56 Films: Cannes Reveals 2020 Lineup

The Making of Cannes 2020 Film Selection Process

Cannes Virtual Film Market Extends Earlybird Registration to June 12

Annecy Jury Members

Take a Look at Annecy Competition Lineup

Getting Back to Business, Reveals Media Consumption Pattern

Cannes 2020 to Announce Festival Selection Lineup on June 3

20 Work in Progress Tiltles Unveiled for Goes to Cannes

Annecy VR Works Selections for Digital MIFA Market

Film Bazaar’s Work in Progress Films from India Goes to Cannes Virtual Market

Navigating Virtual Cannes Film Market 2020

Meet the Streamers: HBO Max & Quibi Keynotes at Cannes Virtual Film Market

Dedicated Cannes XR Virtual Edition from June 24-26

Screen Moms; Best Movies to Stream on Mother’s Day

Vijay Deverakonda: The Lovable ‘Rowdy’

Sai Pallavi: Natural Beauty is a Natural Actor Too

Cannes Virtual Film Market Registration Opens May 13

COVID-19: Nuggets from Netflix’s Ted Sarandos on Filming and Safety Protocols

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan is New Sensation in Netflix Original Series Never Have I Ever

The Best Movies of 2001-2019 Not Streaming in OTT Platforms

Best Movies of the New Millennium Streaming Now

Best Movies of the New Millennium Streaming Now

Best Movies of the New Millennium Streaming Now

Best Movies of the New Millennium Streaming Now

Best Movies of the New Millennium Streaming Now

Annecy Unveils Virtual Film Festival and Market in June

Roskino to Host Russian Virtual Digital Content Market from June 8

27 Rishi Kapoor Films to Stream at Home Now

Virtual Nab Show Express will Take Place May 13-14, 2020

51 International Film Festival of India, Goa ( 20 -28 November, 2020)

Films to Watch in 2020

Christopher Nolan Films Tenet in Mumbai

A Call From Uttarakhand For Filmmakers Of The World

FFO Rolls Out Red Carpet For Foreign Filmmakers

INDIA@BERLINALE-Indian Cinema’s Voices Emerging

51st IFFI TO Mark Satyajit Ray’s Centenary Celebrations

Infusing Life With Dubbing AT VR Films & Studios

Sailing well in Animation Waters

Berlinale 2020: India’s Laila Aur Satt Geet Selected for ‘Encounters’ Section

Prateek Vats’ Eeb Allay Ooo! in Berlinale Panaroma

Berlinale Shorts: Ekta Mittal’s ‘Gumnaam Din’ to showcase of pain of separation

Berlinale Talents: Seven Indians Make It to the List

My Salinger Year is the Opening Film at 70th Berlinale



Berlinale Forum Celebrates Golden Jubilee in 2020

Berlinale 2020 Poster Unveiled

British Actor Jeremy Irons Will Be the Jury President of Berlinale 2020

Amit Khanna: The Renaissance Man

Fantastic Friend




10 Achievements of Amit Khanna

Reflections on Amit Khanna

Valuable Moments

India Enchants John Bailey

The Big Bachchan of Bollywood


IFFI 50 & Fantastic-Lifetime Achievement Award to Isabelle Huppert




Transforming Hollywood from pixels to voxels

Government of India committed to Safeguard IP content: Commerce Secretary

Must do Things at AFM

Why India Attracts Foreign Filmmakers

Pickle at MIPCOM 2019


Super Audio: Licensed to Thrill

Jungle Book Season 3 Ready

Issuance of VPL in India

Editor’s Note: 44th Toronto International Film Festival Pickle Sept 2019 Edition


Seven Indian Indie Filmmakers To Watch

Indian Cinema Of Today: A Culturally Responsive Artifact

Indie Resurgence

Indian Films At Toronto a Sparkling Quartet

IFFI Matters @ 50

Four Indian Films at the Toronto International Film Festival 2019

India Pavilion at Toronto International Film Market 2019

Made in Afghan Film ‘Hava, Maryam, Ayesha’ To Compete at Venice Festival

Keerthy Suresh: The Mahanati of Mahanati. Best Actress, National Film Award

Uttarakhand Bags National Award for Most Film Friendly State

66th National Film Awards Winners for 2018

Watan Adds Colour to Indian Independence Day

dream hampton and Brie Miranda Bryant to Feature in MIPCOM’S Women in Global Entertainment Lunch 2019

Making a Song and Dance of it

NFDC Invites Applications for Production of Films in Indian Languages; Deadline September 8, 2019

IFFI Calls for Entry for Indian Panorama in 50th Edition

Ease of Filming in India

Come, Film In Inida

Why TikTok wants to invest $1 billion in India?

Priyanka Chopra’s The Sky is Pink Set to Premiere in 2019 Toronto Internaitonal Film Festival’s Gala Section

Gitanjali Rao’s Animation Feature Bombay Rose to open Critics’ Week at Venice International Film Festival

76th Venice International Film Festival to Open With Hirokazu Kore-eda’s ‘The Truth’

Indian Cinema’s Soft Power Misses the Mark in Nirmala Sitharaman’s Maiden Budget Speech

Shahid’s Kabir Singh Becomes Top-Grossing Film of 2019

Finance Minister Proposes FDI Norm Relaxation in Media

Media & Entrtainment as Champion Sector Figures in the Economic Survey 2018-19

Indian Cinema’s Steady Rise on Global Stage

Glimpses of the future

Cannes or Netflix? Is Netflix an acceptable remediation for Cannes’ decades-long little regard for Indian Cinema?

Play Small & Live Long Did Wonders for Me

Pickle September Toronto Film Market Issue 2019

Sony Music Entertainment

A Quest for Cinema’s Soul

EFM Landmark: Great Opportunity for Filming in India