April 6, 2020
The death toll from the coronavirus may be declining, but millions of Americans remain working and spending greater amounts of time in the home due to statewide shelter-in-place regulations.
At the same time production of most streaming and commercial broadcast content has ground to a halt while consumption of existing content has increased, creating a dilemma for streaming services.
“We think it is unlikely that content creation will keep up with consumption for the next several months, and expect many consumers to become dissatisfied with the programming over time, particularly if the shelter-in-place regulations persist for more than several weeks,” Michael Pachter, media analyst with Wedbush Securities, wrote in an April 6 note.
This finding underscores in part the current fascination with Netflix’s new original documentary series “Tiger King.”
In a proprietary survey of 1,338 consumers from March 27 to 29, Pachter found more than 93% of respondents reported practicing greater social isolation and distancing, and roughly 68% reported somewhat higher or significantly higher use of streaming services since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
As expected, the survey found that SVOD services benefiting the most in terms of recent subscriber additions appeared to be Disney+, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. Overall, the pandemic has made subscribers to both SVOD and pay-TV less likely to cancel — although not driving cable/satellite TV sign-ups either.
A majority of respondents (54%) continue to have a cable TV or satellite TV subscription, and over three-quarters of cable/satellite subs report having their subscription bundled with their Internet service. Among pay-TV subs, respondents said cable access was the most important feature (41%) of their pay-TV subscription, followed by live news (22%), DVR (18%) and live sports (18%).
“Our survey results suggest outsized streaming subscriber growth in recent weeks, along with more depressed churn [subs not renewing] than would typically be seen during this period,” Pachter wrote.