The 3 Alarming Issues with Streaming During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The 3 Alarming Issues with Streaming During the COVID-19 Pandemic

All that time. All that wasted time. Perhaps the number one pastime during the Coronapocalypse was streaming. Anything from video to music to questionable adult selection on free premium services (you know you who are). Everything was streamed.

We all needed to cope with the heinous sheltering in our own ways. Many people around the world found a couple of extra bucks in their coffers to help entertain themselves while safe and sound from the plague outside.

While “this has been the sharpest decline in consumer spending that we have ever seen,” says Luke Tilley, chief economist at Wilmington Trust via The New York Times, 20% to 50% of spending that is happening has gone to movie and TV streaming.

Understanding there is a gillion dollars out there changing, here’s why that may not be a good thing for you, Mr. and Ms. Consumer.

Down With OTT

no streaming ads will no longer be a reality
Source: Shutterstock

While streaming juggernauts like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime collect more cash than Pablo Escobar in Narcos, all that video watching is taking a toll on the limitless supply of gigawatt power on the Internet.  In fact, Forbes sharestotal Internet hits have surged by between 50% and 70%.

That’s among 325 million people! And where people are, guess what else is — advertising.

These production houses will lose an estimated $11 billion in the face of COVID-19 with a 15% drop in TV and on-screen advertising. And if you believe those ads — and all that money demanding those ads to be seen — will remain at a loss, you’re fooling yourself.

In a former life, I worked in radio. My first program director told me something I’ll never forget, “You may think we are to play great music. We’re not. We’re here to play commercials and only get to play great music in-between stop sets [i.e., commercial breaks]”

It’s all about the MEs

That is what is going to happen to streaming. Say goodbye to your commercial-free plans. Money talks and something else less family friendly walks, right?

Countless companies have not been getting their finely crafted messages out there to convince you to buy their products.

Advertisers know to go where the people are. If you’re all in CTV/OTT (i.e., connected TV/over-the-top) environments, they’ll find you and pay good money to make sure you find them. You’ve been warned.

Band(width) On the Run

wifi buffering streaming
Source: Shutterstock

Apologies to Sir Paul McCartney for that. Kinda.

Arguably, the number one fear about streaming is the dreaded “Wheel of Death,” otherwise known as the “Buffering Signal.” It’s awful and kills an enjoyable movie or TV experience immediately.

Back to that Forbes article:

“Broadband providers are thus far experiencing a traffic surge between 30% and 50% across their mobile and fixed networks,” said Alfonso Marone, who is head of media strategic advisory at KPMG U.K.

“Where self-isolation policies are at their peak in Europe, the spike in internet traffic has reached as high as 70%, which is indicative of what the traffic surge could look like in other regions in just two to three weeks’ time. The most bandwidth-hungry are the online entertainment applications, especially those in high-definition like 4K movies and TV. For broadband providers, this spike may be seen as more a source of headache.”

While the Internet seems to have superhuman strength, it can hurt to flex that long. Fastly put together a fascinating study to better gauge online performance during COVID-19’s Shelter-in-Place.

Data-Table Internet Usage

Surfing, download speeds, streaming, and email is all connected to your local Internet plan. How’s that working out for you these days?

When we self-quarantine, we watch TV and movies. However, that leisure comes at a cost. Streaming is spiking traffic usage and causing many problems for your local ISP. Someone has to pay for that extra work and it won’t be the company. That cost we touched upon earlier will be yours, eventually. Save up.

The Rude Awakening for Streaming

The-None can steal your money Unfortunately, all good things really do come to an end. This includes the fleecing of the world by these streaming companies.

Although it is a harsh description, online-based companies — specifically streaming and shopping — are benefiting from this global pandemic. Most of them earned a potpourri of subscribers. Many popped up during the Coronavirus shelter (yes, HBOMax, we’re looking at you). Some offered trial freemium services. Others opened Pandora’s Box.

Regardless of where these streaming networks have entered into your world, odds are that most of them will experience a loud echo when they open their collective wallets following the “new normal” (whenever that is).

Bloomberg Opinion (Quint) thought about this topic and looked into what would happen to these streaming giants once COVID-19 has either been vaccinated or eradicated. In short, a rude awakening.

“If and when we return to some type of normal, the economic realities are going to hit these services,” Steve Nason, a research director at Parks Associates, a consultancy for consumer-technology products

Post-Pandemic Streaming Blues

behavior streaming post pandemic

Yeah. That’s going to hurt.

Everyone is taking advantage of all the streaming app trials to measure out their interests. There is a bounty of apps out there and they all offer “free” trials. If you add up all your subscription rates, you may be back to paying cable and satellite costs. So, cutting the cord defeats the purpose of you trying to save money.

Once the new normal sets in, consumer will realize all the monthly payments oozing out of their bank and understand what needs to be cut and what needs to stay in circulation. After all, cost is the number one reason why people cut that cord in the first place:

cut cord costs bloomberg opinion

In other words, while we are all enjoying the new apps and the wheelbarrow of content we just loaded up from our TV, this multimedia utopia won’t last forever. In fact, after the next three months, streaming giants may not realize they are not as popular as they used to be…because consumers are realizing they are as broke as they used to be.

Ah, Coronavirus. You have taught us so much. By the way, has anyone made a PPE for my bank account? Send me a DM please.


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I write for a living, among other things in the digital journalism and analytics universe. So I'm a little like a nerd unicorn. But no bronies. Move along.
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