How the pandemic has shaped our streaming habits

3 minutes



The coronavirus pandemic and the government-mandated shutdowns were disruptive events. Yet they often accelerated trends that had been ongoing. For example, people were already cutting the cable cord and watching more online content. The stay-at-home orders simply increased how much time they were watching content online and made subscriptions to various services a value-added proposition. Let’s look at some of the top streaming trends.

A New Record for Growth

The OTT market was expected to see was expected to grow 10% a year from 2020 to 2025 before the government-mandated lockdowns. In 2020, it saw 55% compound annual growth. This rate of growth isn’t sustainable. OTT adoption is expected to hit one third of households before it starts to level off. The value of the OTT market was roughly $85B in 2019 and expected to pass $200B by 2025.

More Releases Online at All Levels

The closing of theaters resulted in a number of blockbuster movies being released entirely online. Wonder Woman 1984 and the live-action Mulan made news when they did so. Yet smaller studios and individuals were releasing content online, too, because the theaters were closed. In fact, many released movies that had been in their catalog or they’d debated releasing, because there was less competition for a dramatically larger audience. This is because the summer blockbusters that would have been their first choice were delayed due to piracy concerns.

This resulted in more movie releases in general, including amateur flicks and educational content. After all, businesses that would have hosted paid seminars couldn’t meet with potential clients, so they were releasing their webinars via VOD services. There’s also been an increase in online-only shows. In the end, almost all content creators need to master the video cloud workflow.                

The Declining Competition with Theaters

Theaters were essentially closed down for a year. This is going to result in many of them closing permanently. Furthermore, the industry has made online premiers of new movies normal. We can expect movie-going to become a luxury rather than an activity you do every weekend. This is especially true given how many people invested in 4K TV and smart TVs because of how much content they were watching online through various services.

Many production houses will skip theaters altogether. Large industry players like Disney may still release the movie to theaters first, but the content will hit OTT platforms shortly thereafter.

The Growth of Sports Content

Sports fans often buy several hundred dollars of tickets and memorabilia every year. One survey found that two thirds of households were willing to pay forty dollars a month on sports content. When you can’t go to the stadium, watching the game online is your only option. And when there are no local games, you might be willing to pay to watch one played on the other side of the world or played twenty years ago. This is why more operators are investing in the sports-related tech stack. Let the diaspora watch home games whenever they want, and you also give people who missed the game the option to watch it on their schedule.

The Shift in Viewing Habits

People are watching much more online content. However, there has also been a shift in viewing habits. There is far more binge watching. This may explain why you see shorter seasons for online-only shows. If there are only six to eight one-hour episodes, someone can binge watch that in a single day. That wouldn’t be easily done if you had a classic 20-episode season. And people tend to binge watch the series as soon as the finale comes out so that they can avoid the dreaded spoiler.        

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