March 16, 2020
With the increased calls for Americans to stay home during the coronavirus outbreak, many see home entertainment — especially streaming services — as a big winner. Indeed, consumers confined to their homes may give the industry a boost, but not all streaming services are equal.
Netflix, which has pretty much maxed out its U.S. subscriptions, may not necessarily benefit monetarily, as subs pay a monthly fee that doesn’t go up with increased viewing.
New and pending SVOD services, however, seem to be poised to benefit. Disney+ is approaching 30 million domestic subs, according to exiting CEO Bob Iger, and its growth may help off-set the hit taken by the Walt Disney Co., headed up by new CEO (and home entertainment alum) Bob Chapek, as its theme parks close during outbreaks. The service will launch in Europe March 24, where social distancing is taking hold as well, perhaps giving Disney+ a boost abroad. Indeed, the studio has ramped up SVOD efforts domestically and internationally. Chapek announced that hit Frozen II would be available on the service March 15 in the United States and March 17 in certain international territories — three months early. Ahead of the impending launch in Europe, the media giant has rolled out promotional offers with mobile carriers T-Mobile and O2 in Germany and the United Kingdom, respectively.
Meanwhile, HBO Max, coming in May, and Comcast’s Peacock, which launches April 15, it seems couldn’t have picked a better time to enter people’s homes.
Another big winner may be free ad-supported services such as ViacomCBS-owned Pluto TV, Xumo (newly aquired by Comcast) and Tubi (rumored to be a Fox acquisition target). In-home captive audiences will be a ripe target for their advertising and easily accessible free VOD content.
While industry events, theme parks and productions may be taking a hit, home entertainment seems poised to increase its audience.