Streaming services gain popularity, theaters suffer


Griffin Eckstein

Movie theaters have been hit hard by the pandemic, Alamo Drafthouse, a small national chain with locations in Tempe and Chandler, filed for bankruptcy during the pandemic.

With the meteoric rise of streaming services such as Netflix, its inevitable impact on movie theatres’ revenue is apparent. The Covid-19 pandemic hit theaters the hardest, impacting attendance rates and helping at-home movies reach their all-time peak popularity. There’s so much happening with the new changes to digital media and entertainment, and it’s only been accelerated by the pandemic. In the US, streaming subscriptions have gone up 50% in 2020 alone. After theaters were closed for a year and limited capacity, consumers would rather stay at home and be safe.

Movie theaters are losing customers and business to streaming platforms. According to Nelson Granados, “Streaming platforms like Netflix are only growing stronger with time, rolling out huge hits featuring A-list actors and are garnering worldwide attention.” Streaming services’ popularity had massive success during the pandemic and people started to realize their potential. In a recent survey, over 20% of adults said that they have no intention of returning to movie theaters, even if the COVID-19 vaccine was widely available. Because of this, streaming services are considering releasing new content to their streaming platforms on the same day. Disney has revealed that they made over $60 million in revenue for “Black Widow” solely from customers paying for premier access. Theaters worldwide have taken great damage from the pandemic combined with the popularity of streaming.

The preference for theaters was highest in November 2018 and dropped by half by the time the pandemic was in full effect. Evan Colihan, a student at CHS said, “ … I like the convenience of streaming… they’re cheaper than movie theaters and you can watch any show you want at home…” After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and was forced to close their doors for months on end, streaming services saw record growth. Netflix alone closed 2020 with over 200 million subscribers. Kate Rogers, another student, states her opinion on movie theaters. She says, “…I guess it’s a fun place to go with friends… and it’s cool because you lose your concept of time because you’re watching the movie for so long, you don’t know how long you’ve been there.” It’s reached the point where streaming services are becoming a real threat to cinemas; studios are realizing that they can reach more viewers and collect more revenue when working with streaming services.

No one can deny the impact streaming has on the movie industry. Now that studios are releasing major movies to platforms, theaters need to change their decades-old rules if they want to stay in business.