Netflix, Disney Plus, and HBO Now signups spiking because of COVID-19

Streaming services like Disney Plus and Netflix see huge surge in subscriptions due to coronavirus.

Forbes reports the coronavirus outbreak has caused popular streaming video platforms to experience sharp increases in new signups and usage rates. For some services, like Disney Plus and HBO Now, COVID-19 quarantine driven traffic has been a boon. But for others, like leading global provider Netflix, the uptick in television and film consumption has been more complicated.

Disney Plus and HBO Now See Big Signup Increase

Streaming analytics company Antenna states Disney Plus received three times as many signups on March 14-16 as it did the previous weekend. Notably, the family-friendly subscription-video-on-demand (SVOD) service experienced a membership spike not long after many countries initiated partial or total school shutdowns.

With nearly 300 million students now homebound worldwide, the House of Mouse’s offering has become more appealing to parents.

For the entertainment conglomerate, Disney Plus’ sudden growth couldn’t have come at a better time. The corporation has recently had to shutter its theme parks and delay the release of its spring blockbuster movies.

However, the recent surge in government and corporate work from home mandates has also driven adults to expand their SVOD viewing. HBO saw a massive 90 percent increase in signups for its streaming service during the second weekend of the month. HBO has since disclosed that its Now SVOD experienced a 40 percent usage spike in the last 10 days.

The WarnerMedia subsidiary revealed the content driving consumers to its platform is decidedly dark. One of the SVOD’s most viewed movies is “Ebola: A Doctor’s Story,” a harrowing 2016 documentary about a 2014 epidemic. Moreover, ultra-bleak but excellent crime drama “The Wire” saw its audience triple in recent weeks.

HBO’s corporate parent is keen to capitalize on all the attention its video content is getting. From April 17-20, AT&T will make HBO and Cinemax available for free for AT&T TV, AT&T TV Now, DirecTV, and U-Verse subscribers. The telecommunications company is likely trying to whet appetites for its HBO Max SVOD, which will launch in May.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Netflix experienced a very healthy 47 percent increase in new subscriptions in the U.S. market. Similarly, AT&T states the service hit an all-time viewership high on its networks last week. However, the company’s uptick in signups comes at a time when the SVOD has to reduce the quality of its streams in other parts of the world.

Bloomberg notes the company is downgrading the transmission of its content in India, Australia, and some parts of Latin America to ensure widespread Internet availability in those nations. The world’s largest SVOD recently agreed to downgrade bit rates across Europe to preserve bandwidth in that region.

To date, Netflix hasn’t capped the streaming quality of its films and TV shows in the United States. But with so many Americans now working from home, the firm might need to make a change.

It’s also worth noting the SVOD experienced a brief and unexplained service outage in parts of the U.S. and Europe on Wednesday.

At present, Disney Plus, HBO Now, and Netflix are functional in America and all offer free trials. For homebound workers and kids, there is no better time to check out their (age-appropriate) offerings.


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