Rise of Streaming Services  

Addie Mount, Staff Writer

Amidst worldwide lockdowns and quarantine, movie theater sales suffered, and many people turned to streaming services for entertainment. While the production of many films were delayed, a majority turned to streaming services to release their work. This pattern has continued for years after lockdowns, and it seems that our world today has less of an emphasis on movie theaters.  

There was much uncertainty for the future of theaters during the first lockdowns, and many struggled to make enough profit to stay open. According to FSU, “Even AMC, the largest chain in America, may be forced to file for bankruptcy. Some smaller chains and independent theaters have allowed small groups of people to book private screenings, in an attempt to earn some money. Several states have announced support for a socially-distanced reopening of theaters, but with distribution companies not releasing new films and most film-goers wary, it remains to be seen if many will reopen at all.” 

In addition to the lockdowns, the release of new streaming services also contributed to movie theater’ decline in sales. According to Variety, “The advent of the pandemic coincided with the launch of several new streaming offerings such as Peacock, HBO Max, Paramount Plus and Disney Plus, which were owned by the media conglomerates that house traditional movie studios. This, in turn, gave those studios even greater flexibility when it came to deciding how a movie would be released.” Being stuck at home left many families with little to do other than watch new movies and shows to pass the time, and new streaming services made it much more appealing. Streaming services have a number of genres and options; however, they are more expensive than balancing one or two subscriptions with going to the theater occasionally. According to Raindance, “The average consumer spends about percent more on streaming services than in 2018.” 

Many platforms buy popular shows and make them exclusive to their service, such as ‘Friends’ moving from Netflix to HBO Max, or ‘The Office’ moving to Peacock. This strategy is often used when streaming services first launch to convince consumers to subscribe to them. Some services offer ‘package deals,’ where you can buy a subscription to two partnering platforms for a discounted price. An example of this is Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+ partnering. These deals make it easy to spend more while feeling like you are ‘saving’ money.  

While it is much more convenient to have the ability to watch new movies at home, movie theaters are becoming obsolete in many areas. For example, Regal Cinemas recently closed almost 40 theaters across the country. Senior Aubrey Cook stated, “I definitely see movies less, because streaming services allow me to see a lot of movies I would normally see in theaters.” If these patterns continue, we may not have movie theaters at all in the future. Now in a mostly normal world, it is interesting to see how many people were eager to return to theaters. According to CNET, “With film release slates finally getting close to normal this year after pandemic lockdown, 2023 will be crucial to understanding how much everything else has changed and just how well — or not — movie theaters are suited for it. The lessons learned this year will affect what movies get made in the future, which ones come to theaters and how much you’ll fork over for a night out at your local multiplex.”