As the Covid-19 outbreak accelerates and over 1,000,000,000 people around the world are told to stay home to prevent the spread of the virus, streaming services are booming.
In the first few weeks of the lockdown, Netflix usage has increased by 60% and there's no sign that it'll slow down any time soon.
But as live sport gets cancelled, and staples of the traditional channels like soaps and game shows start to get postponed and rationed, how long can live broadcast television compete?
"We see rising levels of frustration among UK households about the range of choices they have and how hard it is to keep track of content," says Martyn Whistler, Global Lead Media and Entertainment Analyst at EY.
"Our recent research showed that around a third of all viewers are frustrated, which jumps to over 50% for those aged 25-34 years old. Strong brands with a rich breadth of quality content will be most effective at cutting through the noise."
Platforms with well-developed shows, and effective means of cataloguing and delivering them – Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, NowTV and others – may very quickly become the go-to for many users as the lockdown continues.
It helps that there's a wealth of content available on these platforms – from brand new shows to classics, all available at the press of a button (something live broadcasts can't hope to compete with if they're forced into showing repeats of episodes, rather than curating classics in high demand).
"With a hiatus on sport as well as production coming to a halt, companies with deep content libraries will be mining them for the very best content. We’re likely to see a return of firm favourites from the archives but also a hunger for anything new."
The unprecedented circumstances around the outbreak have already seen major changes take place in how media is distributed, as Whistler explains.
"Already films slated for cinema release are going straight into the home. Perceptions of quality on streaming services continue to rise, our survey found, with 41% of those aged 18-24 stating that streaming services have the best quality content, higher even than for traditional channels.
"The UK is already a nation of streamers, but the outbreak of Covid-19 could be a further catalyst in that direction. 49% of UK households say they already use streaming services often or nearly every day. That number could increase significantly."
So what does that mean for traditional TV? Can the 'big five' terrestrial channels recover once this is all over? The prognosis isn't lethal, but it certainly isn't good.
"With more established, heavyweight media brands investing in streaming services, the less streaming looks like an add-on and more like mainstream,” concludes Whistler.
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