Some businesses have suffered, losing customers and revenue during the pandemic, but the streaming service industry has seen an increase in subscriptions.
Hulu, Netflix and Disney+ are some of the most popular streaming services and have each seen increases in viewers and subscribers since social distancing and stay-at-home orders became the new normal.
According to a Washington Post article, Netflix saw a record 15.8 million accounts added between January and March. According to the Wall Street Journal, Disney+ had 33.5 million subscribers on March 28, and it is now up to 54.5 million subscribers, an increase of more than 20 million from the end of March to the beginning of May.
“Like other home entertainment services, we’re seeing temporarily higher viewing and increased membership growth,” said Netflix in an April 21 letter to shareholders. “We expect viewing to decline and membership growth to decelerate as home confinement ends, which we hope is soon.”
The increase in subscribers in the first few months of the year was a record for Netflix, according to its first-quarter earnings announcement.
According to a Hulu press release posted on May 7, binge-viewing has increased by 41% since the beginning of March, and on average, Hulu viewers are watching nine different titles in a given week, 26% more compared to the same time last year.
Former BYU student Maci Ferreira had subscriptions to Netflix and Hulu pre-pandemic and says her viewing time of about three hours a week hasn’t increased during the pandemic. Ferreira said she prefers and uses Netflix more. “There’s more options and better selections for the price you’re paying.”
On the other hand, some people have increased their viewing times because of staying inside. BYU senior Jared Blatter said he’s been using streaming services more than before.
“I didn’t see an immediate change in usage because I was still in the middle of the semester when I moved back home to be quarantined,” Blatter said. “However, once finals were over I was using Netflix and YouTube a lot more than before.”
Prior to the pandemic forcing everyone to stay inside, Blatter and his family had subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. “We got Disney+ after I moved home and convinced the fam how great it is,” Blatter said.
He estimates going from between six to eight hours to about 15 hours per week total watching things via streaming services, 10 of those hours being on YouTube.
BYU senior Jordan McWilliams says he uses Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime and Hulu, all of which he had subscriptions to before the pandemic. But right now the main thing he uses to stream is the AMC app because he has started binge watching the Walking Dead.
“I used to love the show but I haven’t kept up with it for the past two years,” McWilliams said. “With all the extra time I decided to pick back up and watch the show again. I burned through all the episodes available on Netflix and the latest season is on the AMC app.”
McWilliams didn’t have an AMC account or a TV provider to sign into, but luckily for him, AMC was letting people stream through the app for free, so he was able to watch it without credentials.