How is COVID-19 affecting big platforms

According to a survey conducted by EDO, Disney+ is the streaming service benefiting the most during the pandemic.

 As the pandemic put one-third of the world population in lockdown, the media and entertainment industry is witnessing a significant shift in its consumption. Even though cancellation and postponing entertainment, sports and cultural events will cause a major shortfall in revenue for event organizers as well as for media that broadcast them, some platforms are thriving due to the same reason.

As many office workers switching to teleworking, schools moving online, streaming platforms and social media becoming the primary source of entertainment and social distancing prompting virtual meetings, demands on internet bandwidth have gone skyrocket. 

Due to this unprecedented load on internet infrastructure, giant streaming platforms such as Youtube and Netflix are reducing the default quality of the videos on their platforms from high definition (H.D.) to standard definition (S.D.).

Furthermore, AppleTV+, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Facebook and Instagram are also throttling back streaming-video bit rates in the E.U., joining the effort to reduce congestion on the internet networks that have become stressed during the coronavirus pandemic.

But so far, YouTube is the only one to take its video throttling worldwide.

This measure was initially put into practice in Europe then expanded as COVID-19 put more countries into home-quarantine.

At first, Youtube made it possible to change the quality of the videos to 1080p manually, but as of now, this is not an option anymore.

Here is the COVID-19 effect on some of the big platforms:

Music Streaming platforms:

While many would assume staying indoors during the pandemic would boost streams on the platforms, the actual numbers may say otherwise.

On Thursday (March 19), MBW predicted that the volume of plays within the latest Spotify Top 200 global weekly chart would fall by 11.4%.

With that being said, there were very few new releases, that may also play a part why the streams are declining.

Fewer people are commuting to work or school, and many are working from home, which means more people are likely to stream from their computer desktops, T.V.s, smart speakers, and gaming consoles or no streaming at all, which might bring music streaming figures down.

According to the data published by Spotify, more people are listening to news, health, lifestyle, kids and family podcasts. Regarding playlists, users are creating and following more workout playlists, and streams of running, yoga, nature sounds, and meditation playlists are seeing an uptick as well.

There are also more acoustic, softer and classical songs being streamed.

Spotify also revealed that there’s a spike in listening for artists who’ve been live streaming concerts, citing James Blake, Ben Gibbard and Code Orange as three examples.

Apple Music has a new hub called ‘Come Together’, gathering new playlists, including ‘Isolation Icebreakers’, ‘Work From Home Hustle’ and ‘Living Room Dance Party’, starting in the U.S. and U.K. before rolling out globally.

Deezer also has some insights into the new listening behaviours: its daily peak for listening has changed from the rush hour (around 7am) to 9am-10am, while also pinpointing a 10-day ‘shock’ stage where people’s usage declines, before recovering again. 

Deezer has also started promoting a three-month free trial of its Premium, Family and HiFi subscriptions.

Social Media: 

With many practicing social distancing and staying apart from their friends and family, the need for social media to stay connected is more eminent than ever.

According to Facebook’s analytic department, total messaging is up more than 50 percent over the last month in countries that have been hit the hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Voice and video calls are also doubled on Messenger and WhatsApp in the same locations. WhatsApp, specifically, is experiencing the most significant gains in usage, with overall a 40 percent increase in usage, according to Kantar.com.

Facebook and Twitter usage is surging during the pandemic, but that is not necessarily good news for these platforms as these company’s main source of revenue is advertisements, and that is being diminished because of the pandemic impact on ad-budget.

Socialbakers data reveal that posts mentioning coronavirus have been far more common on Facebook than on Instagram, implying that people may use Facebook more often to get news and updates.

Video chat platforms are booming due to many working from home, attending virtual meetings, online classes, and trying to stay connected to their loved ones. 

The Zoom app, which is a video chat platform, is currently the top free app in the Apple App Store. According to MarketWatch.com, the new data indicate that daily usage was up more than 300 percent compared to before the pandemic confined people to work from home.

Online TV:

The suspension of theatrical and TV productions, delays in new movie releases, and shutting down cultural events, streaming services are expected to flourish due to them being the primary source of entertainment during global lockdowns. (Fun fact: US Box Office totals for the week of March 20-26 was $5,179. This time last year, it was $204,193,406)

Most analysts who track Netflix, agree that the coronavirus will keep people at home and boost streams. Most of them grade Netflix’s business as either unlikely to be harmed by the pandemic, or possibly to be benefited from it. Analysts at RBC, Canaccord Genuity, MoffettNathanson, LightShed and BMO all say the coronavirus outbreak is either a low risk to Netflix or potentially even profitable.

On the other hand, a few analysts believe the economic hardships caused by the pandemic could have some users reconsidering the services.

But as of now, the services have yet to cut fees for new or current subscribers.

Romina Amou Zadeh
Written by
Romina Amou Zadeh

An aspiring entertainment journalist, animal lover and a music geek with a penchant for pop culture, fashion, travel, fitness and bubble tea.
She holds an Honours Bachelor's degree in English from the Azad University of Tehran-North and is currently studying Journalism New Media at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario.

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