Bored Lockdown Viewers Look To Streaming TV For Solace

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Written By Hasan Rezazadeh

Bored viewers in coronavirus lockdown are switching on to streaming movies and TV in their millions.

Streaming video services are struggling to keep up with demand but feel viewers may tire of watching libraries of old content while new titles are on hold while production companies have closed due to the virus.

Industry statistics suggest streaming programmes has doubled during the pandemic.

US market monitor Neilson recorded Americans watched 27 billion minutes of streaming TV in just 24 hours on April 4 – equivalent to 50,000 years of content. A year ago, the US watched 70 billion minutes of streaming content in a week.

Media experts are also watching a battle between free and premium content play out.

Broadband speed drops

“We’re seeing free premium content, we’re seeing acceleration of some of the content schedules that were out there to really bring attention into this space,” Ernst Young’s Janet Balis said.

“They are asking how do you compete on the strength of your existing library and extract more value from that, or potentially think differently about content-acquisition?”

A lack of live sport is nudging viewers to watch other content.

Provider Verizon has seen a 54% month-over-month growth in news, a 60% increase in gaming and a 134% increase in entertainment.

A huge increase in online traffic not only as people watch more streaming TV but because they are working from home and playing more games, has led to an average 15% drop in broadband download speed.

And what’s the most popular lockdown streaming TV programme?

Lockdown’s most-watched TV programme

It’s undoubtedly Tiger King on Netflix, with 34.3 million viewers in the first 10 days of release.

Netflix has had a subscriber boom – adding 16 million new subscribers during the lockdown, taking the global number to 182.9 million.

CEO Reed Hastings has written to shareholders explaining that earnings and new subscriptions in future periods may not be as high as during the pandemic.

“The pandemic will impact the streamer’s pipeline of new shows, because most film crews worldwide have had to stop working although animators were quickly back at work and writers mostly just kept writing,” he said.

“When it comes to production, almost all filming has now been stopped globally, except for a few countries like Korea and Iceland. This has been devastating for millions of workers in the TV and film industry – electricians, hair and make-up artists, carpenters and drivers who are often paid hourly wages and work project-to-project.”