Impact of COVID-19 on Popular Streaming Services

Rohan Mathew

Updated on:

The COVID-19 pandemic has to be one of the worst calamities of the year with the resulting lockdowns leading to more people spending time at home while practicing social distancing. During this time, there has been a considerable increase in people binge-watching movies/TV shows.

This has resulted in considerable growth in the global video streaming industry, as the revenue of VoDs is projected to reach $51,617M in 2020, as reported by Statista. Streaming providers like Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, Disney+ and YouTube have noticed an enormous increase in their audiences and sales.

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  1. Netflix

Netflix executives during an event said: “Like other home entertainment services, we are seeing higher viewership temporarily, and increased subscriber growth” indicating the sudden effect of lockdowns. Since people are spending more time at home, there has been a 47% increase in new subscribers.

Netflix officials even reported a profit of $709 million in the first quarter of 2020 with a revenue of over $5.8 billion. They further revealed a huge increase in subscribers, crossing the 15.7 million mark, which is almost double the number of subscribers who signed up during the last quarter of 2019.

This isn’t only limited to audience in the US. Users of the VOD service have increased sufficiently in other countries as well. The demand for Netflix in Switzerland has risen to the point that the Swisscom’s Network has felt the strain of Network burden during these times. 

Moreover the service announced that it will cut down the streaming quality of its videos in Europe in order to ease stress and lower the burden of ISPs.

  1. Hulu

As people are locked up in their homes amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, they feel more inclined towards home entertainment activities. The Marketing Head at Hulu, Patrizio Spagnoletto, said that Hulu’s demand, signups, and retention had grown tremendously with engagement over 40%.

People have started watching nine titles a week. In partnership with ABC News, Hulu has even started streaming Live TV news, without any additional cost. This gives its subscribers authentic and latest news on COVID-19 and other concerned issues.

On 20th March, a wide outage occurred, affecting different devices due to overburden on the platform. To counter the issue, Hulu cut down its streaming quality and reduced the bandwidth to release the load on servers and ISPs. 

As a result, users were reporting receiving low-quality video streams even in geo-restricted areas, as people find different ways to get Hulu in Singapore, Canada, Australia, UK, and other countries.

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  1. Prime Video

Prime Video also encountered issues while broadcasting its content in Europe. Similar to other streaming services like Netflix and YouTube, Prime Video has also reduced streaming bitrates in the European countries to ease the load on the local ISPs.

A Prime Video representative stated that they are collaborating with the local authorities to lessen network load while reducing streaming bit rates in Europe while maintaining the streaming quality for a better customer experience, as covered by The Guardian.

However, for other countries, including the United States, there will be no reduction in bit rates for now. This means, users of Prime Video can enjoy streaming in 4k quality, minus any hassles!

  1. Disney+

While the Walt Disney Company has suffered a massive decrease in revenue, Disney+ has seen an enormous increase in its subscribers during the Coronavirus Pandemic. From its initial release until February, Disney+ gained 28.6M subscribers.

This further increased during March of 2020, when state-wide lockdowns were imposed and remote working was mandated in many countries. During this time, Disney Plus recorded a three-time increase in new subscriptions, compared to previous months. 

After being launched in Europe on 24th March, Disney+ also managed to secure Hasbro’s license from The Mandalorian, an original Star Wars show. There was already a huge demand for Baby Yoda in Europe, but due to the Corona Pandemic, as people streamed more content on Disney+ while observing social distancing, the sales just hit the roof.

  • YouTube

This one may be a bit obvious, but YouTube also reported a massive increase in their users and watching-time, as COVID-19 lockdowns were taking the whole world by the storm. As of 12th March, YouTube searches skyrocketed, and its interest hit the peak at Google Trends.

During late February and early March, about 15% of YouTube traffic was coming from the US, followed by India at 9.6%, reported in a study on Alexa. Restaurant-style arrangements at home and in-home workout videos were among the top interests on YouTube.

Wrapping Things Up

When people are stuck at home, they indulge in more home entertainment activities than they did before. People started consuming a lot of videos on different streaming services to get rid of boredom at home. However, what was boredom for us ended up being a treasure trove for the VoDs listed above!