Although already popular, streaming services have become a familiar comfort to many throughout the pandemic. They were, and arguably still are, a source of connection, relaxation and stability.
The resulting lockdowns saw massive growth in our use of these platforms, with people spending double the time in using them in comparison to normal circumstances. This was particularly prominent in 16-34-year-olds, who on average, spent 2 hours a day using subscription services. as shown in an Ofcom report.
Being confined in houses with limited outdoor time and human contact have led to the need for escape and relaxation. Working from home turned many houses into temporary offices, making it difficult to separate work and play. Curling up in bed enthralled in a new series was a worthwhile way to curb boredom - particularly true during the colder months. For many, life was the same day over and over with nothing to do. The time that was spent commuting and socialising now needed to be filled, and killing time by watching something is an easy and low-effort alternative.
Streaming has also kept us connected in many ways. Personally, streaming has brought me closer to my friends. Browser extensions such as Teleparty and Disney+’s GroupWatch have allowed me and others to connect in real-time and at least simulate some kind of normality. Of course, the physical aspects are removed, but the feeling of togetherness is still there.
For some people, such as Will Spencer, it wasn’t just about on-demand series. Although the pandemic gave him the chance to get into shows he “would not have the time to watch in normal circumstances”, he also found that streaming the Premier League when it restarted gave him “something to look forward to once or twice a week”. With so many things closed or cancelled, having this type of stability to hold on to eased passing time. Similarly, this was reflected in the decision to release weekly episodes of shows on Disney+ like WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Not only this but these platforms have released some of their best content yet, with shows like The Queen’s Gambit, Bridgerton, and WandaVision reaching record-breaking levels of views. These series brought people together internationally, encouraging massive amounts of online debate and praise all over social media.
With seemingly endless options and genres of shows, getting bored of one thing can result in a quick and easy switch to something new. Now having plenty more time to themselves, people have found it far easier to get invested in something that they may not have had a chance to watch otherwise.
It has truly been a blessing that Coronavirus came at a time where there is much easier access to entertainment. Not only has it meant that there is something there to fill time, but it’s helped connect us and give us things to discuss both online and in-person, as the world begins to slowly open up again.