Has More Time Spent Working From Home Changed Viewing Habits For Multicultural Audiences?
In 2020, global events have led us to spend more time indoors than ever before. Figures show that around 30% of employees in the UK are currently working remotely, compared to only 4% in 2019. With people now spending such a larger part of their work and leisure time at home, how has this changed the viewing habits of audiences from multicultural backgrounds?
A Shift To Culturally Relevant Content
A recent study conducted in the US found that multicultural audiences were increasingly seeking out content that was related to their ethnicity, language and cultural heritage. It found that 60% of US Latinos said that they had spent three to five hours more than usual streaming culturally relevant shows during the pandemic.
Demand for Spanish-language streaming content increased this year by 15%, led in part by the wildly popular Netflix shows ‘La Casa de Papel’ and dramas such as ‘Elite.’ With more Latinos streaming content than ever before, the US-based, Spanish-language streaming app Vix saw a surge in growth during the peak of the pandemic.
Speaking about the rise, the company’s Chief Strategy Officer Rich Hull said that the current situation has helped Latino audiences get on board with more streaming options: “Latino audiences are just coming around to the adoption of AVOD (advertising-based video on demand). For us, it’s a particularly great time to come together.”
Interestingly, it seems that it is primarily younger audiences who are seeking out these shows. The average time that 18-34 year olds spend watching Netflix is significantly higher than for other age groups. This suggests that the multicultural audiences seeking out culturally relevant content tend to be in this age bracket, as they are the ones who favour streaming platforms as their primary source of entertainment.
Speaking about this trend, Alejandro Rojas, Director of Applied Analytics for the entertainment consultancy Parrot, said that a more diverse audience would continue to watch more culturally relevant content: “Younger audiences who tend to be more diverse, are avid consumers of content that reflects the diversity they see in their day-to-day experience,” he said, adding, “It may also reflect that Latinx, who are underrepresented by talent who appears on-screen, are being served by Spanish-language content produced outside the US.”
Connecting Multicultural Audiences
Similar to other countries, the amount of content streamed online in South East Asia rose significantly during the pandemic, with streaming minutes via mobile increasing by 60% in the early stages of the pandemic. The amount of time people in the region spent per week watching Netflix grew by 115%, but there was also a sharp increase in people watching content on local online video platforms. This would suggest that as people spent more time watching content in general, their appetite for more locally produced content also grew.
This shift in viewing habits is mirrored in those of British Asians. British Asians are increasingly demanding better representation in the media, and the greater demand for culturally-specific content both in Asia and the UK may lead to more content being produced by and for these demographics, thereby improving the issue of representation.
Shifts like this could tap into a growing trend of consumers placing more value on connecting with the shows they watch on a cultural as well as personal basis. The CEO of Asian video-on-demand service iFlix explained how spending more time indoors has been the catalyst for this shift: “I think that we are going to live in a vastly different post-pandemic world, which will involve significantly more flexibility,” he said. “Things like working from home and having video meetings will be the norm. That kind of flexibility flows into a broader sense of freedom, which will dictate how people want to consume entertainment.”
A survey found that, prior to the pandemic, consumers were more passive in how they engaged with streaming platforms, often relying heavily on suggestions from partners or household members when choosing what to watch.
One woman said that she had previously been uninterested in TV, but was introduced to the range of Bollywood content on Netflix by her children as she spent more time at home during the pandemic. She said that her children had wanted to find content they all had a connection with and could discuss as a family.
In light of this unexpected surge in demand, brands and producers may feel more confident in targeting multicultural audiences with visual content. This rise in streaming consumption has been seen across the board, and could open many doors for an increase in targeted content and multicultural marketing.