A “Happily Ever After” For Video Streaming Services?

Author: Emily Tang

The BRB Bottomline

With more time now than ever to sit at home, microwave some popcorn, and turn on a show, quarantine has undoubtedly impacted all of our daily routines. Whether it is following along to workout videos on Youtube or binging an entire season of your favorite series on Netflix, more likely than not, you have contributed to the rising popularity of digital video streaming throughout the past couple of months. Although media corporations such as Disney+ have taken full advantage of this seemingly unstoppable upward trend, the inevitable reopening of universities, offices, and theaters could have the ability to halt this “happily ever after” fantasy for streaming services. 

Just keep streaming, Just keep streaming…

While music streaming has decreased since mid-March, video streaming has been increasing since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers are spending more time and money on video subscriptions, generating an overall 63% rise in streaming services usage in the second quarter of 2020. Furthermore, despite subscription fatigue, with more time at home, many consumers report that they are motivated to maximize streaming value by taking advantage of their subscription as much as possible.

Disney+ has seen one of the biggest boosts in subscriptions during the pandemic. The New York Times explains that “powered by the release of “Hamilton”, Disney+ has about 60.5 million subscribers, hitting its initial five-year goal after only nine months in operation” (New York Times 2020). The pandemic has allowed for more consumers to enjoy the service with 68% of US adults reporting that they have increased their time spent on Disney+ since before the coronavirus outbreak. 

To post-COVID, and beyond!

Although there is speculation surrounding the continued dominance of video streaming services, there is strong evidence supporting their prevalence amongst consumers even after lockdown regulations are relaxed in the US. 

According to McKinsey, although consumers are anticipated to pull back spending in some categories post-COVID, within the US, “home entertainment”, including streaming subscriptions,  is still a category that most Americans will be increasing their spending on. The growth in customers purchasing for “home entertainment” won’t be as rapid but will still be consistently present. 

Some suggest that this continued trend could be due to hesitation many US consumers have  regarding their return to in person- live events such as movie theaters, sporting events, etc.. In fact, a study conducted by Deloitte found that over one-third of consumers reported they wouldn’t be comfortable for more than six months when it comes to going to live events. Deloitte explains that although “this is just a snapshot in time, it underscores the public’s anxiety and uncertainty.” Luckily for Netflix and Disney+, consumers will be more cautious when heading back to their local movie theaters and are predicted to still largely depend on their home entertainment systems overall. 

Nonetheless, as more people head back to work and return to their busy schedules, individuals will undoubtedly have less time to sit at home and stream TV shows. Therefore, challenges will still be present when it comes to retaining the amount of subscribers the services have gained over the past couple months. Additionally, as financial struggles faced by households are prologoned (and in many cases worsened) with the US being unable to contain coronavirus cases, more individuals are facing financial burdens and putting unnecessary costs, such as their Netflix subscription, on the back burner. “Consumers who lost income during the COVID-19 pandemic were more than twice as likely to cancel a service because of cost compared to those whose income was unchanged.” (Deloitte)

Cue the Next Episode

With the unpredictability and lack of precedence in regards to the post-COVID realm, it is difficult to gauge the exact response streaming services will receive from consumers. However, it is safe to say that the rise in and reliance on video subscriptions is a trend that will continue to climb upwards. Despite the inevitable return of movie theaters, “at home” streaming would continue to have its place in entertainment. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the show because the streaming services that we all love and cherish are here to stay. 

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