How are streaming platforms

affecting entertainment?


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Streaming platforms are changing the face of entertainment

The popularity of streaming platforms is undisputed, and it has become even more so as the world continues to grapple with COVID-19.

Streaming platforms such as Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and Prime Video, among many others, have become ubiquitous. Many people around the world have become subscribers to these affordable platforms, which offer high-quality streaming of movies and television shows, bypassing the constant interruption of advertisements.

With more than 213 million paying subscribers worldwide in the third quarter of 2021, Netflix has retained the top spot as the most sought after streaming platform. While the United States and Canada remain its most lucrative markets, Asia-Pacific has seen significant growth in the past three years, primarily during the pandemic, when many countries in the region went into lockdown. Netflix reported 30.05 million paid subscriptions from Asia-Pacific in October this year, significantly increasing its pre-COVID-19 figures.

With the streaming giant’s focus is now on Asia-Pacific, Netflix has led the way in transforming the way entertainment is provided to the masses. In 2020, Netflix announced that it was doubling its investments in Asia for 2021. The platform revealed that it would be investing US$500 million in original South Korean movies and dramas. K-dramas, as they are popularly known, have proven to be a big hit globally. This is reflected in the popularity of Korean shows such as Squid Game and Hellbound, which have been dubbed in various languages to reach an international audience.

However, the popularity of streaming platforms is causing an undesirable outcome for traditional entertainment channels, such as movie theatres and free-to-air cable television. For example, in Singapore, movie theatre operators are reporting a massive decline in business resulting from COVID-19 restrictions and exacerbated by the rapid advancement of streaming platform subscriptions.

In 2020, Singapore’s box office saw its takings plummet to S$49.6 million compared to S$175.4 million in the previous year – this is a significant dent in the cinema industry. Singapore has a thriving cinema-going population due to affordable ticket pricing and the widespread availability of cinemas across the island. However, this trend has shifted, with 51% of Singaporeans aged 16 and above now having a Netflix subscription. In addition, Singapore has seen growth in the average number of subscriptions to video on demand, which grew from 0.7 per person to 1.1 in 2021.

With the scope of entertainment sources changing in Singapore, it is unsurprising that free-to-air cable television is struggling, with some pulling the plug on their channels. For example, Disney announced the closing of 13 of its television channels across Southeast Asia in order to introduce Disney+ to more Asian countries, such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and South Korea.

As a result, the introduction of Disney’s streaming platform gives audiences access to a wide range of blockbusters traditionally watched in the theatre, such as the highly profitable Marvel movies and Disney animations, in the convenience of their own homes. It is also more cost-effective, as a one-time payment gives subscribers access to many movies and television series. Therefore, it is unsurprising that in a survey of respondents across Southeast Asia, 73% stated that they would continue to use or increase their consumption of programmes on the various streaming platforms even after the pandemic ends.

Streaming platforms have changed and will continue to change the face of entertainment at the expense of traditional entertainment platforms. While some channels can adapt and reinvent the ways in which they transmit their programs – for example, by creating streaming platforms, as in the case of HBO – others may not survive the threat of streaming platforms and shut down. Whatever the case may be, it is to be expected that these streaming platforms will continue to thrive for many years to come.

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