There is no easy way to understand the reality behind living in the middle of a Pandemic. The COVID-19 health crisis has forced a majority of people to stay home and only going out if needed. It has been stressful, scary, and oftentimes leaving people to feel very much alone with their own anxieties. There is a bright side to the fact that we happen to be living during a time in which the media has become immensely more accessible from home, which I think is helping to alleviate some stress. I know that I have been relying on my own streaming Service subscriptions to keep my head up. With this current scenario it does leave streaming services to thrive and it has been interesting to see the sudden shift in popularity. This will forever impact the ways in which media such as film and television will be presented. So with everyone socially distancing and staying at home when possible it is the best time to look at why Streaming Services are successful and how things will change even when we move past this.
Increase in Subscribers
Cable Television despite some diminishing returns is still turning out constant entertainment on a regular basis. Even Network Television still has hit shows, but it doesn’t see nearly the same amount of love as it used to. I think that has been in part due to the rise of Streaming Services that can deliver thousands of hours of content in a fairly easy and streamlined approach. This trend has been going on for several years now, but with the Pandemic the subscription based platforms seem to be a growing market. In a lot of ways the Streaming Services are outshining everything else right now.
The Streaming revolution and expansion has been preparing itself for an event like this for some time. The amount of original content in addition to classic shows and films they offer is staggering. It gives people so many options and it is common that people have multiple subscriptions to get access to a wide range of content. The most popular of which include Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and there are even more niche ones like Crunchyroll and Shudder. All of these choices have given so many people options. When people aren’t out working they are stuck at home with very little to do in addition to not being able to go out. It makes more sense to find the time to binge that one show that everyone has been talking about or go back to a classic movie that you maybe haven’t seen now more than ever. There is so much to choose from that it can be so enticing to sign up for multiple services and the number of new subscribers are seeing a huge influx, which I’m certain those companies that profit off of their subscribers are ecstatic
Disney+ has recently reported that it now has over 50 million subscribers, which is an incredibly impressive number for any streaming service, let alone one that just launched last year. It is not unreasonable to assume that this Pandemic has had an impact on those numbers. I imagine a platform like Disney would be incredibly popular for families looking to entertain children who would normally still be in school. The amount of original and classic Disney content available there is one that is incredibly exciting and will often give parents the break they may need if stuck dealing with rambunctious children. Disney is certainly not the only one who have seen an increase. The overall uptick in subscribers can be seen across the board and will probably continue being steady as long as the “Stay at Home” orders are still in place.
In addition to the uptick of subscribers and users for these platforms I’ve also been fascinated by the apparent resurgence, and popularity of some content that has surfaced. With as many choices as there are it is really interesting that so many people end up watching and enjoying the same shows and movies.
I don’t think that anyone was quite ready for the popularity of easily the most talked about show of the year, Tiger King. Tiger King is a short documentary series following the lives and the story of Joe Exotic. A Tiger keeper who got caught up in a plot to murder an Animal Advocate. This documentary series has become a cultural phenomenon being covered across all forms of media and blowing up trends on social media. I don’t think under more normal circumstances this show would have been nearly as successful. This isn’t to dog the quality of this Docu-Series, but a show like this rarely makes waves that are as immediately felt. It has to be assumed that the fascinating quality of the people shown in this documentary has given people an outlet to express their feelings through and get distracted by. This isn’t the only thing to have risen in popularity due to the virus either.
If you want a good indication of where people’s heads are I found that looking at the top and trending content sections on Netflix show the mindset extremely well. I’ve seen many people watching not only documentaries about pandemics, but shows featuring the apocalypse in addition to movies that may fall on the more lighthearted side. I have seen people use this streaming content to soothe the anxiety that has been consistently felt in a lot of ways even if everyone has their own way of doing so. What has been fascinating has been shows that may not have done well when they were released are seeing people suddenly becoming more interested in it. A great example I noticed was that of the 3rd season of Designated Survivor being viewed because of its story-line about a pandemic level threat. It seems as if people are using their content to deal with everything by ignoring it, tackling it head on, or a little bit of both.
The Future of Media Distribution
An event like the one we are all currently struggling through is one that was not expected and has inadvertently caused some harm to the theater structure of distribution of films. These theaters need to constantly have customers to afford to keep their doors open and as a fan of going out to a theater this is certainly going to leave a gap. It is big reason why Streaming is more popular now than ever. With this in mind it is very possible that the ways in which media will be distributed are going to change as a result.
When the “Stay At Home” Orders hit it caused a chain reaction of everything being closed and movies that were originally meant to open in theaters were delayed or made their way to video on demand. It continues to be a bit surprising when these studios were forced to move their big budget productions to a rental at a higher price model. It certainly hurt those films that were hoping for the theatrical release to draw in crowds and make them money. Depending on where things are going I could see this happening more often. Some studios like Disney have even worked out deals to have their theatrical films make it to their subscription service with Disney quickly releasing Onward and going to release Artemis Fowl through Disney+. It won’t surprise me if these releases for films becomes much more common even when things slowly start going back to normal.
The changes that we will all experience will be jarring. It is not going to be easy to feel as safe as we have in the past and a lot more people will probably want to enjoy certain things from home. It is safe to say that streaming will remain as one of the most popular avenues of gaining content, which has forced studios to look at putting their bigger films on these platforms. This could possibly impact the model in which distribution will occur. It may even speed up the move towards digital distribution as the main form of distribution. It is something that has been moving in that direction for some time, but a Pandemic that forces one to stay at home is just another factor that pushes towards that inevitability.
There is no telling what will happen Post-COVID 19 Pandemic. There is a lot that could change, but it could also go back to how it was more or less. In a way this has been a fascinating look at what the entertainment industry has gone through and will have to endure. I have hope that things will get better, but until then please stay home so that you can do your part in flattening the curve. I know that some of you may have personal examples of those that have been harmed in your life due to this terrible virus and some of you haven’t. In either scenario it is important to remember to continue being safe and keeping an eye on not spreading it any more than it already has. Up Your Geek wishes you all the best during this incredibly trying time.