We sleep, we eat, we cry, we stream, we watch- we binge. It is no mystery that quarantine- prompted boredom and desperation that has changed our lifestyles. While stuck at home most people tend to cope with quarantine by binging anything they can on Netflix, Amazon prime, Hulu and other streaming services. But just how much has our dependency on entertainment increased? And how has this affected the overall cinematic and television industry?
During quarantine, while many businesses struggle with the economic crisis, SVODs (video on demands) have boosted their number of viewers, subscriptions, and, consequently, profit. According to a report by TV Insider, “Netflix added 15.8 million new subscribers worldwide in the first three months of 2020”, and “it’s stock rose to a record high of $426.75″.
While the increase in profit is excellent news for the video-on-demand services, the overall movie and television industry is not only facing short-term internal changes, such as a change in the most popular tv and movie genres, but also possible long-term and more significant changes that might affect our whole relationship with movie and television entertainment.
To get the full insight on how our quarantine binge-watching has changed the cinematic and television industry, I interviewed Juliana Moreira de Souza who has worked with Lionsgate, Protagonist Pictures and A24. The 26 year old is currently working at Currently at “Under The Milky Wayan International Film Distributor” where she delivers content to VOD (Video On Demand) platform partners. In our interview, Juliana pointed out five significant changes that are happening to the movie and television industry due to the pandemic:
1. More engaged users
We are at home, we are bored, so why not rate movies? Juliana stated that streaming platform users have been more engaged, they aren’t skipping ratings, as most of us did when we gave ourselves one-hour breaks to watch Tv shows.
She stated that “the increase in user engagement is not only beneficial for Netflix because of the rise in customer knowledge, but Juliana stated that users “know there’s so much available to watch (the streaming market is saturated!) so they are more likely to rate positively if they feel it was worthwhile.”
2. Feel-good movies are the favorite genre
Juliana told us that the movie genres that are being streamed the most are children’s movies, let’s be honest our kids and inner child have to be entertained, and overall “feel-good movies,” such as comedies, which I think we can all agree are escapism to the horrors that are happening outside.
3. Bigger box offices are, more than ever, overshadowing smaller films
Juliana stated that the films that reached the most popularity during quarantine were inherently big enough to be featured in the movies; nonetheless, quarantine obliged these movies to be released on streaming platforms. She stated that a prominent example of a popular movie during quarantine is “Trolls World Tour”, a movie originally meant for the big screens but which was released directly onto Disney+.
4. A possible end to Indie and Art house films
“I think theaters will be forced to show films that are even ‘safer’ ( films that guarantee a higher profit) in terms of the expected box office to survive and I’m mainly talking about movies with huge budgets and production value; that is impressive in terms of visual effects, sound design, cast, etc. such as franchise movies. We already saw this trend before the pandemic with the rise in popularity of Video On Demand (VOD), and now… well, we can expect an even more significant shift in that sense.
It’s costly to maintain theaters open, and many smaller indie films are not as sustainable as before (less interest and people willing to pay). Smaller theaters had already been struggling for a while, and now they’ve been forced to close for months… They won’t recover quickly. This means more Indie and art house films – except award-winning hits and Oscar contenders of course – will now have even slimmer chances at theatrical releases and so will need to turn to VOD.”
5. A bigger appreciation for the arts and real experiences
It is clear that quarantine would not be the same without entertainment: I think most of us would have gone crazy. Despite these being dark times one thing’s for sure: we will appreciate things we previously took for granted. And this is no different in the entertainment industry; Juliana “We’re less likely to take these for granted after the trauma and hopefully we’ll consider supporting creative folks and their production chains further.
For instance, we may be finding more personal reward in going to a cool local movie theater with a friend instead of downloading the same content illegally to watch on a laptop in bed. Finally, technology also has a role to play. We’re now physically apart but more connected than ever online. I believe tech will be incorporating, enhancing and further shaping these collective and individual creative experiences we realize we need. Products and services are now facing even greater financial pressure to stay relevant and they’re bound to innovate while trying.”
Modern technology has created a spell by itself: making us crave new ways to consume them, making them have an exponential increase in the cinematic and television market, and, in turn, in our overall relationship with entertainment; it would be safe to say that quarantine just emphasized this.
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