[UPDATED] COVID-19 Impact on Streaming Sites: Netflix, HBO, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and More

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streaming services

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken over the world and people have taken to practice social distancing to minimize the spread of the viral outbreak. While people are home, they’ve resorted to streaming services to binge-watch movies, tv shows, stream music to fight the boredom.

Streaming services are seeing a spike in subscriptions and media consumption and Conviva, a streaming analyst firm, reports that there has been a 40% increase in viewing on streaming sites from 10 AM and 5 PM.

HBO

HBO which is owned by WarnerMedia recently shared how many of its subscribers are streaming movies and TV shows. The streaming platform saw a 65% and 70% increase in series viewing and movie watching respectively. Twice the number of people are now watching Euphoria, Big Little Lies, Game of Thrones, His Dark Materials and Westworld which have gains audiences in excess of 50%.


There has also been a 65% increase in people binging more than 3 episodes of HBO shows per day.

Classic tv shows like The Wire, Sex and the City and the Sopranos tripling and doubling their audiences for the latter two series.

Movie audiences for blockbusters like X-Mn: Dark Phoenix, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, Armageddon, Apocalypse and Black Swan are growing to upto 70%.

HBO has made some of its best shows for free courtesy of their current #StayHomeBoxOffice(link to the full list of shows) campaign on HBO NOW and HBO Go both on mobile and desktop.

You don’t even need a subscription to enjoy this offering that began yesterday(3rd Friday)

HBO has now added all episodes of Big Little Lies. You can stream season 1 and 2 for free without a subscription.

Use a VPN as it is geo-locked.

Use this handy tip:

Netflix

Netflix has seen an increase in demand for video content. However, the streaming giant is reluctant on sharing exact numbers.

We’ve seen how Tiger King has gone viral on the platform as most countries are going in or are already in lockdown with people staying at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The seven-part documentary series took the number one spot in the U.S, Britain, Canada and other countries for more than a week.

Amazon Music

Amazon is offering a free three-month trial for its music streaming platform, Amazon Music Unlimited. It’s usually a one-month trial period but for new subscribers, that limit has been extended to 90 days so that they can access ad-free music streaming during this pandemic. The monthly fee is $9.99 and $7.99 for Prime members.

The streaming site also added work from home playlists including Classical for Focus, Scores for Work, Chill House and Instrumental Covers for Work.

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video which is available on more than 200 countries. The platform will be streaming movies that were supposed to be showcased at SXSW event which got cancelled over COVID-19 fears. The flicks will be free to watch.

Titles haven’t been published yet. Here’s the original lineup.

Apart from the SXSW movies, Amazon Prime Video will be streaming kids movies and TV for free so if you have kids you can now stream family-friendly titles from Amazon.

The streaming service also added support for up to six profiles for the same account and each will have personalized recommendations, progress tracking and watch lists so that everyone gets entertained while we are at home.

Twitch

Twitch which is owned by Amazon grew 31% in terms of viewership and having 43 million total watch hours from 33 million between 8th March and 22nd March as more people join livestreams.

Discord

Discord has also seen an increase in usage as more people try to keep in touch with their online friends. The platform recently increased the limit from 10 to 50 people.

YouTube

More people are now heading to YouTube and the platform is experiencing increased viewing and audiences. The platform added a link that directs users to the World Health Organization page on COVID-19 pandemic on top of the search results in their effort to fight off misinformation on YouTube.

YouTube Gaming

YouTube Gaming has also had a surge as the creators tap into the platform’s on-demand video culture by creating highlight reels and other shorter videos. “We’re seeing tons of interest across all gaming platforms, which includes PC, console, and mobile gaming,” said Ryan Wyatt, the platform’s global head of gaming.

Disney Plus

Disney Plus has also seen a sudden increase in usage and people signing up. Disney+ is now offering classic tv shows to binge including The Mickey Mouse Club, Treasure Planet, Gargoyles, Mulan, Boy Meets World, So Weird, Sleeping Beauty, Smart House and Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century

Apple Music

Apple Music has “Come Together” which is a new hub that has new playlists that include ‘Isolation Icebreakers’, ‘Work From Home Hustle’ and ‘Living Room Dance Party’

You can also stream Apple’s AI-generated playlist “Get UP! Mix” which they unveiled last week.

Apple TV

Apple made Oprah Talks COVID-19 free for streaming on Apple TV+ where she interviews guests such as Reverand Wintly Phipps and Idris Elba over FaceTime video calls to offer hope and thought during this pandemic.

Apple is also offering a selection of its Apple TV Plus original shows for free and they can be streamed without a subscription either using this link or from its Apple TV app.

The shows include:

  • Snoopy in Space
  • Helpsters, a live-action series for preschoolers from the makers of Sesame Street
  • The Elephant Queen, a wildlife documentary narrated by Chiwetel Ejiofor
  • Ghostwriter, reboot
  • Little America, a series about immigrant life in America created by Lee Eisenberg and executive produced by Kumail Nanjiiani, Emily Gordon and Alan Yang
  • Servant, a thriller from M. Night Shymalan about a couple mourning a tragedy
  • Dickinson, starring Hailee Steinfeld
  • Astronaut alternative-history drama, For All Mankind

Hulu

Hulu has added free live TV news in partnership with ABC News Live to help users get the right information concerning COVID-19 from trusted sources.

It’s worth noting that this offer won’t need a Hulu subscription.

Soundcloud

As live events and concerts get cancelled or postponed, artists are finding it hard to earn money and SoundCloud recently introduced a new donation button so that artists especially indie artists can add it to their profiles and have their fans support them directly.

Artists just need to head to their profile pages, click Edit,  add a support link and then save changes. Soundcloud already supports services like Patreon, Paypal, Bandcamp and Kickstarter. The streaming site will not take a cut of the donations made through the platform.

It is unknown whether this feature will be permanent as Soundcloud says it will be active “as long as we’re all in this,” meaning it’s a temporary initiative because of the viral outbreak.

Spotify

Spotify’s global streams in the Top 200 chart dropped 11% to 226 million plays in the week commencing March 13 when a number of countries around the world followed the rest of the EU’s lead in suspending public events, schools and encouraging people to stay indoors.

The giant streaming platform introduced ‘Spotify COVID-19 Music Relief’ that recommends verified organizations that offer financial relief to those in the music community most affected to show support for the artistic and creative community during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The company will match donations made via that page dollar-for-dollar up to a total contribution of $10 million.

Spotify is also working on a new tool that will enable artists to fundraise directly from fans just like Soundcloud.

There is also work from home and quarantine playlists available.

The company also published data which points out that more people are listening to new podcasts, kids and family content.

People are now streaming more instrumental, lower energy and acoustic songs.

Pornhub

Pornhub Premium offering went free worldwide. This is the adult entertainment site’s efforts to flatten the curve while everyone is under lockdown practising social distancing. The select content will be available to everyone globally till the 23rd of this month.

Sling

Sling(VPN required)is now offering a couple of free shows and free live news(ABC News Live) to binge on its app and website including Hell’s Kitchen, Samurai Jack, Cooking Channel, Science Channel, Destination America, ABC News Live, PlayKids among select shows.

SiriusXM

SiriusXM has opened up its premier service for free to all users which means they can access over 300 channels for free with no ads.  This offer runs till the 15th of May. With the free offer, you get access to exclusives like the BillyJoel Channel, over 300 radio channels, music stations that cover all genres including artist backed channels including Eminem’s Shade 45, The Beatles Channel and Pearl Jam Radio.

Interesting Streams

JK Rowling is partnering with Audible to have Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone free to stream on the platform narrated by Stephen Fry to keep kids entertained. The free audiobook is also in Spanish, French, Italian, German and Japanese.

The author granted open licences for teachers during this viral outbreak so that teachers worldwide can post videos of themselves reading from Harry Potter books 1-7 onto schools’ secure networks or closed educational platforms such as Google Classroom or Schoology.

Nine Inch Nails released their latest albums, Ghosts V: Together and VI: Locusts for free as free downloads, YouTube and streaming services.

“Although each of us define ourselves as antisocial-types who prefer being on our own, this situation has really made us appreciate the power and need for connection,” the band said.

How Streaming services are handling the strain

With increased demand, streaming platforms have now put in measures to handle the strain and prevent any network congestion. YouTube is now making videos default at the standard definition of 480p worldwide – you can switch to a better resolution. Other platforms like Disney Plus, Amazon, Apple and Netflix are also doing the same – reducing the streaming quality for regions such as Europe while also following requests from different Internet Service Providers(ISPs) globally.


Studio employees are now working from home to feed the streaming addiction and add finishing touches to tv shows and movies that were set to go live in the coming months.

We’ve already seen that some streaming services will air partial seasons of tv series such as HBO’s Billions. Prep work is currently being done for upcoming shoots for studios like Industrial Light & Magic that provide visual effects and animation work for key Disney franchises like Marvel and Star Wars.

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