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How Are Streaming Services Adapting During Coronavirus?

March 19, 2020 Sarah Cavill

As businesses everywhere quickly adapt to life during Coronavirus (COVID-19), subscription streaming services are in unique positions to provide additional services while people are stuck at home.

Around The World, People Are Watching More TV

Shutterstock_386549023  Television broadcast streaming multimedia. Earth globe abstract composition

According to a recent article in The New York Times (NYT), TV viewership has gone up around the world since audiences have been required to stay home. The article notes, “In South Korea, as cases spiked, television viewership shot up 17%, according to Nielsen. Last month in Italy, the size of the TV audience increased 6.5%, with a 12% rise in hard-hit Lombardy.” And, Seattle has seen ever bigger spikes, with a week-over-week increase of 22% calculated on March 11. 

In response to the increased demand for programming and, in some cases, the inability to go out and see movies, Universal and Disney are streaming movies previously slated for later release dates. Universal will make several of its current theatrical releases available to stream, while Disney+ pushed up the streaming release of Frozen 2 by 90 days. Universal will be offering their films on a number of platforms for a cost, hoping to make back some of the inevitable lost box-office revenues, while Frozen 2 is available to Disney+ subscribers. 

Other streaming services, including AMC-owned AcornTV, Sundance Now and Shudder, are extending their free-trial period from seven days to 30, giving audiences opportunities to get to know them while stuck at home.

Networks Are Struggling For Content, Creating Openings For Streaming Services

The other side of the coin is the negative impact the Coronavirus is having on traditional network television — no sports are being played, the Olympics are a question mark, no deals are being done and many shows are shut down while casts and crews weather the virus like the rest of the world. Additionally, depending on how long self-isolation goes on, TV networks may find their audiences canceling costly cable and sports packages in an effort to mitigate lost wages. As networks figure out their next steps for continued viewer engagement, audiences may turn to streaming services

Quibi, Peacock And HBO Max Are All Set To Launch In The Coming Months

By most standards, it is a difficult time to launch a new product, but streaming services are in unique positions because they have captive audiences. Quibi, Peacock and HBO Max are all moving forward with planned launches in the coming months. With insiders speculating “soon-to-launch platforms could attract more viewers than expected” during the time period while audiences are self-isolating at home. “This might not last, but it gives them all a much better and lower-cost shot at proving their value to audiences,” said Matthew Ball, former Head of Strategy at Amazon Studios.

The cost of streaming subscriptions, new and old, are likely to be scrutinized as audiences tighten their belts during uncertain times for markets, wages and jobs. Free streaming services may be able to get a foothold as audiences pare down or search for new viewing options. Streaming brands that want to resonate with audiences should offer reliability and stability during these difficult times, and free trials should certainly be considered for launch promotions and campaigns intended to scale membership.

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Senior Marketing Communications Writer, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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