Media consumption is booming due to COVID-19. With consumers in the United States refraining from gatherings while they social distance, they are turning to all forms of digital entertainment. Nielsen’s ratings has estimated that while consumers are forced to stay home, TV usage has increased by nearly 60%.
With movie theaters and other entertainment venues closed, the pandemic has affected how people enjoy entertainment and video games. A new study from Deloitte suggests that many of these newly formed habits will stick with people. In fact, the study found that 38% of consumers have reported they have tried out a new activity or digital media subscription.
How COVID-19 Has Affected Entertainment
Let’s take a look at how certain entertainment options have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While movie theaters are losing money from remaining shuttered, streaming services are at an all-time high. In April, Netflix announced a record increase in the number of streaming customers. Wall Street had estimated the streaming giant would gain roughly 7.6 million new subscribers, they actually gained 15.8 million. This led to their first quarter net income earnings reaching a whopping $709 million, which is more than double the year before.
The same can be said for other streaming services such as Disney+ who gained nearly 22 million new subscribers since the pandemic began. Other à la carte services such as Amazon Prime is expecting a rise in revenue. This is likely because Amazon Prime gives subscribers a variety of movies and shows for “free”; however, the newest releases must be either purchased or rented.
Even Twitch, the popular streaming service that offers live streams and gaming videos, has seen an increase. As of March 18, they had garnered a 10% increase in users. Unlike Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, etc. who rely on subscribers, Twitch monetizes its platform through ads. They will likely see a considerable rise in ad revenue thanks to the pandemic.
Many people though cable television was a dying breed. However, COVID-19 and the imposed lockdowns have helped this industry as well. With the halting of filming of popular shows, people who subscribe to cable television programming have had to find new ways to enjoy this service.
Hence, many have been forced to check into new packages for added channels. Since every cable company offers a variety of packages, there are lots of add-ons consumers can consider. For example, those who never subscribed to movie packages before found themselves suddenly needing them. With many basic channels showing only re-runs, it’s been difficult to find fresh quality programming.
Finding new entertainment is also especially hard since sports were halted. Basketball and baseball fans don’t have any games to follow. Instead, they find themselves looking for shows and movies they’ve never seen before. Cable companies have profited in turn, with an increase of pay-per-view purchases.
Cable television viewing has also dramatically increased because of the news. Since there is so much going on the world, more and more people are tuning in to nationally broadcast and local news services. They are catching up with the latest information regarding COVID-19 and other happenings.
As we mentioned, people are looking for new forms of entertainment that they can enjoy at home. It’s reported that a large number of people who have never played video games before have taken it up. According to the NPD Group, as of March, their monthly report showed a sharp rise in game sales that were driven by the virus. They found that software sales increased 34% up to $739 million, over March 2019. Hardware sales saw an even larger increase. Their findings found that hardware sales were up 63% over 2019. In total, the gaming market generated an estimated $1.6 billion, which is a total increase of 35% over last year.
One expert, Mat Piscatella of NPD, believes that the Coronavirus has helped gaming evolve as more than simply an entertaining pastime. He feels that people are currently using gaming to feel connected and find comfort, like they are part of a community. He says games are helping to make people’s lives more enjoyable as they are stuck at home with little to no interaction with the outside world.
When it comes to software, few games have had the opportunity to beat the sales of two games: Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. While both games have performed well, Modern Warfare is the top-selling game of 2020 thus far.
On the hardware front, NPD found that three major consoles finally saw an increase in sales, after they had months of steady declines. The top-selling system so far has been the Nintendo Switch. They more than doubled their March 2019 sales in March 2020. In fact, the console has been in such high demand that Nintendo’s had a hard time keeping supply up with all the demand.
High Speed Internet Service
As you can imagine, with entire families stuck at home, the need for internet has gone up. It’s easy to see why – with all the gaming and streaming it’s putting a real demand on the household bandwidth. For this reason, many families are increasing the packages for their high speed internet service.
Since the pandemic began, home internet services aren’t just for entertainment anymore, as many Americans were forced to begin working from home. As America’s offices and schools moved into living rooms and basements, nothing has had a more profound impact on online activity than these changes. Between school assignments on Google Classroom and meetings via Zoom, many families have found that they needed faster internet to keep up with their new demands.
Long Term Impact
Many people are wondering if entertainment has forever been impacted. Will concerts, sporting events, movie theaters, and the like ever reopen and operate as they used to? Will people anxiously return to those types of entertainment or be satisfied with their newfound platforms? No one knows for sure just yet, but one thing is for sure – while the pandemic hurts some industries, it’s clearly helping streaming services, gaming companies, cable companies, and even internet service providers!