NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

The pandemic’s effects on entertainment media

On Thursday, March 19, 2020, the first state-wide stay-at-home order was issued. States all over America quickly followed suit in an attempt to stop and or slow down the spread of COVID-19.

With so many people at home, families naturally flocked to the television to keep themselves entertained during lockdown and to keep up with world events. We live in a day and age where streaming services dominate our current day media space, and when COVID-19 hit, there was a noticeable increase in their uses. Why have people gone to streaming services in particular?

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) 62 percent of Americans felt more anxious than they did at this time (Oct. 21 2020) last year. When participants of the public opinion poll were asked what was causing them the anxiety, the top two reasons were related to the Pandemic and how it would affect aspects of their life.

To escape the chaos and stress of everyday life, people looked for a form of escapism: a different world to melt into. Several million people found it in the form of the amazing shows found on streaming services like Disney+, Hulu, and Netflix.

According to statista.com, in the first quarter of 2020 the number of Netflix subscribers jumped from 61.04 million to 69.97 million from fourth quarter 2019 in the U.S. alone. And that isn’t even the biggest jump.

When we look at variety.com’s numbers for the newly created Disney+ it’s number of subscribers jumped to 86.8 million from just over 10 million in the span of November to October of 2020.

However, COVID-19 hasn’t been too kind to traditional Hollywood. California became the first U.S state to issue a statewide stay-at-home order, shutting down movie production and traditional forms of media production in the process. This caused any anticipated movie releases to be delayed by months, and even years in some cases due to the lack of availability of staff, and actors. Even if a studio did have the manpower to film a movie or TV show, you can’t film if your actors aren’t allowed to be within 6 feet of each other.

Granted, filming for movies was finally authorized in June of 2020, however production for movies was impacted, with film crews needing even more rules and regulations than ever to ensure all actors and crew remain healthy throughout the duration of filming.

The production side of things aside, movie theaters may not be able to recover from the Pandemic. Since most movie producers are allowing straight to streaming service releases of their movies, this has ruined any reason for people to risk going out amidst the pandemic to see any new movies. AMC’s stock price has been on the decline since 2016, but in 2020 people saw the stock price drop even lower.

We see movie stars like Zendaya making movies successfully amidst the early days of the Pandemic. Companies like Disney not breaking a sweat thanks to their investment in streaming services legitimizing the medium even more. Hollywood as we knew it before the Pandemic is gone, and the Hollywood we see after the chaos of COVID-19 will be a sight to behold.