April has seen Hollywood’s announcement of more release rescheduling. Studios have opted to push blockbuster releases to later in the year or indefinitely—with no end in sight. However, streaming services have never been more popular. Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and myriad other platforms have capitalized on the COVID-19 quarantine. Where it’s impossible for Hollywood to max out on new releases, streaming platforms are pumping out content and deals. There’s never been a better time to be an online streaming service. Is this a new, digital, film renaissance?
A Question of Convenience
The entertainment industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic: Hollywood is frozen. Millions of people are trapped inside across the globe, and the natural solution for entertainment is preexisting. Viewership across streaming platforms is growing at an unprecedented rate. Obviously, it’s easier to stream or watch cable TV than go out—going out for entertainment purposes is prohibited in most places.
By virtue of being accessible in the house, streaming platforms win. They’re instant, less expensive than in-person moviegoing and, at current, viewers’ only options.
And streaming platforms know that. Industry behemoths are releasing new content ahead of time, slicing deals for new subscribers and going viral with outrageous new shows. New streaming services are getting their moment in the sun. More and more consumers are looking for cheaper (or free) alternatives to traditional streaming platforms, and many new players deliver that.
Most notably, however, HBO is providing hours of free streaming content. For the month of April, HBO has promised some of their most “beloved shows and documentaries, plus a selection of movies” for free. This deal includes The Sopranos, Silicon Valley and Veep, as well as Crazy, Stupid, Love. and Detective Pikachu, among others. The company boasts that HBO Go and HBO Now are available on the App and Google Play store, as well as online. View the full list of free content here.
Similarly, Showtime, Shudder, Acorn TV and even SiriusXM are offering free 30-day trials beginning in the month of April and extending as late as May 15. Veterans Netflix and Hulu maintain a 30-day free trial as well, but Disney+ maintains the oft-offered 7-day trial.
Straying from the norm of streaming has led to the discovery of many diamond-in-the-rough platforms. Crackle, a Sony-owned platform, is completely free. The service offers a massive selection of TV and movies, many of which can’t be found on other platforms. Notable content includes Big Fish, Roman Holiday, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and many other classic films. Check out Crackle here.
Kanopy as well is a highly valuable streaming service offered by many public libraries, colleges, and universities. Blockbuster films are available on Kanopy for free, so long as you have access to it through your library or school. Kanopy offers Lady Bird, Moonlight, Eighth Grade and other indie films and documentaries. Use Kanopy here.
— Kanopy (@Kanopy) March 31, 2020
Streaming is King
Streaming is the dominant player in the entertainment industry now. COVID-19 is the agent propelling at-home streaming to new heights, possibly for good. More consumers are turning to streaming than cable, even without a pandemic. It’s more common, cost-friendly and convenient for users to access media from their homes. Movie theaters are recognizing this during the pandemic, introducing “virtual cinemas.” Streaming platforms of all kinds are staking their claim in viewers’ hearts, releasing more high-demand content than ever before. The digital grasp on entertainment’s jugular continues to tighten—with more fervor and fatality than ever before.
Are we living in a period of Hollywood’s best, online? That’s for time to decide. One thing is clear, however—streaming is here to stay with a passion and hunger for viewership that’s never been seen before.