There has been a tremendous upsurge in media consumption during this COVID-19 pandemic. With the stay at home order (earlier), social distancing, and refraining from gatherings in force, many Americans have had to turn to digital entertainment. According to ratings by Nielsen, there’s been a 60% increase in TV usage.
While movie theatres and other entertainment centers remain under lock and key, the way people enjoy video games and entertainment has been affected positively. According to a Deloitte study, 38% percent of consumers say that they have tried a new digital media subscription or activity. The research suggests that these new habits will stick with the people that have formed them.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Entertainment
Specific entertainment channels have witnessed an enormous increase in subscriptions during this pandemic period. Below is a list of some of them.
- Streaming Services
While cinemas are recording losses resulting from being shut down, streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and Twitch are recording massive inflow of income. Netflix, for instance, recorded a massive increase in new subscribers. Before this increase, Wall Street had estimated 7.6 million new subscribers for the streaming giant. However, Netflix recorded twice the estimated number (15.8 million subscribers), leading to a net income of $709 million, twice the amount they made the previous year.
Disney+, on the other hand, has recorded an increase of almost 22 million new subscribers since this pandemic started, while Amazon Prime expects a rise in its revenue. The reason is that Amazon Prime subscribers get the latest releases by purchasing or renting them, but have some shows and movies offered to them at no cost.
Twitch, a popular site for streaming and gaming videos, is not left out in the list. As of March 18th, Twitch had recorded a 10% increase of users. While some streaming platforms such as Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime rely on subscribers for their income, Twitch generates its income by monetizing its platform through ad placements, which will result in a significant increase in ad revenue.
- Cable Television
With the Coronavirus outbreak, cable TV that was once regarded as old fashioned and dying is now recording an increase in revenue. With filming of new series on a standstill, subscribers of cable television programs have had to explore other ways to enjoy home entertainment.
As a result, many subscribers have had no option but to check into cable television packages with additional channels from Charter Communications, Comcast XFINITY, Mediacom, Cox Communications, CenturyLink and others. They have enough to choose from because the cable TV companies have many different packages for consumers. Also, people who have never subscribed to any movie package suddenly needed them to keep themselves entertained. However, it has been challenging to get new programming because most basic channels have had to air only re-runs.
With the halting of all sporting activities, most sports lovers have resorted to watching shows and movies that they have never seen before, therefore increasing the profit of cable companies through pay-per-view purchases. Also, with the stay at home order, most people have resorted to cable television to keep up with the news and local happenings around them. They are checking for information on the pandemic.
- High-Speed Internet Service
The need for fast internet is on the rise because of the Coronavirus too. With social distancing in force, people have resorted to many online activities, including streaming and gaming. The result is an increased need for household bandwidth. Many families are now upgrading or switching to better and faster high-speed internet packages provided by the major cable companies.
Besides the fact that people need high internet speed for various gaming and streaming activities, most Americans have been forced to work and school from home, with schools and offices now in their apartments’ basements or living rooms. Meetings and school assignments are conducted on platforms such as Zoom and Google classroom, respectively. Hence, families see the need for high-speed internet.
- Video Games
People are continually looking for ways to keep themselves entertained. This has led to an increase in revenue for various gaming platforms. A recent survey shows that people who, before this time, had little or no interest in gaming, have slowly picked it up as their new favorite pastime. The NPD Group, in its monthly report, outlined a rise in the sales of games during the pandemic period. It was also discovered that software sales increased to $739 million (a 34% increase from March 19th). Hardware sales have also witnessed an upsurge of 63% compared to the number in 2019. Generally, gaming has recorded an increase of about $1.6 billion, representing a 35% rise compared to last year.
Mat Piscatella, an expert working with NPD, stated that the pandemic has dramatically helped the gaming industry evolve. It is no longer merely an entertaining pastime but now a means of comfort and connection to a community. Mat stated that while people are locked indoors without interaction with others, gamming has helped them live more enjoyable lives.
Regarding software sales, two games have been on the list of top sold games: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Modern Warfare has been topping the list in 2020.
Regarding hardware, NPD also stated that there’d been an increase in gaming console sales, with Nintendo Switch topping the list. They doubled their March 2019 sales in March 2020 and found a hard time keeping up supply with the current level of demands.
Long Term Impact
People still have unanswered questions bordering on whether the entertainment industry has been impacted forever. There are questions everywhere. People want t know if the movie theatres, concerts, sporting events, and the likes would ever operate the way they were before COVID-19’s outbreak. These questions remain unanswered, but one fact stands that while the pandemic is dealing a severe blow to some industries, it has positively affected others, including cable TV, streaming platforms, internet service providers, and even gaming companies.