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The Post-Pandemic Future Entertainment Will Not be Scheduled

By Sean Moffitt

Video Killed the Radio Star was an annoyingly catchy 1979 song by The Buggles, released just as MTV and an explosion of other cable and pay television stations were launching. Television and the media would never be the same game again. Fast forward to 2020, in the wake of this current pandemic, and the new song waiting to be authored might be Streaming Killed the TV Star.

Forced into quarantining inside their safe household havens, the world has gulped, and chilled with its fill of video streaming on TV, and they have given their verdict. They like it. They really like it. Video-on-demand has now become the essential, pandemic household, life service. The average American family is now paying $60 per month and subscribing to 3.8 streaming services (Harris Poll).

Not only are we watching more TV overall during our COVID-19 hibernation, a greater proportion of it is from streaming companies. We are now watching home entertainment much differently. According to Nielsen, the share of total on-demand streaming minutes viewed on over-the-top TV boxes has gone from 14% to 23% during this pandemic.

We have felt aghast by the likes of Tiger King, held breathless by Love is Blind, marvelled nostalgically at the sports doc The Last Dance and embraced the newest member of the Star Wars family The Mandelorian. Lost in the news of societal and economic collapse, Disney Plus has accelerated to over 50 million customers in less than five months. Netflix has had a record quarter of new subscribers. The established brands Amazon Prime, HBO Live, CBS All Access and Hulu have all grown.

At the same time, a flood of new streaming platforms have launched to compete with different business models: Apple TV+, Peacock, Quibi and HBO Max among them. Pandemic video streaming has become a global phenomenon with brands like Youku, IQiyi and Tencent Video from the other side of the world adding their own distinctive flavour to the trend.

Streaming entities have already won over the critics. The audiences are now simply catching up. Over the last two years, Netflix and HBO have bounced back and forth as the #1 or #2 most popular award winners in the Emmys, earning more trophies than the other big four broadcast networks combined. They are now starting to infiltrate the Oscar movie awards.

In the next two to three years, we will see continued share erosion of conventional TV. Unlike other pandemic-driven activities, this is not a habit that will go back to normal after the brunt of COVID-19 is over. Fifty-six percent of people project they will actually watch more, not less, video on-demand, after the next normal is established (Source: e-poll).

Greater than our need for individual shows or channels, the Netflixes and Primes of the world are simply reflecting an overall customer value set for the 2020s. According to my study The Customer Zeitgeist, the top four attributes people now want in their products and services they use and buy is for the