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Has Quarantine Afflicted Our Attitudes Of Streaming?

Netflix's films and series are just following the highest law of the "hype"

Has Quarantine Afflicted Our Attitudes Of Streaming? Netflix's films and series are just following the highest law of the hype

When the entire world is on lockdown, the on-demand becomes our one and only savior. Next to the traditional competitors as Netflix and Prime Video, in the past few weeks we've seen many platforms come to our rescue: Infinity, Rai Play, Pornhub - and in the meantime Disney+ was released in Europe. Still, the consequences of the state of quarantine hit on the streaming devices, too.

Some examples: on Monday March 20th, 2020 Netflix released Ultrasthe first feature film by Francesco Lettieri. It was the talk of the week and the web went crazy over the soundtrack of Liberato. However, only a few  days after it was released, the film completely disappeared from the top 10 of the most watched film on Netflix. That's because in the meantime the web discovered El hoyo, a Spanish film that literally swiped the film by Lettieri and won the weekend. Still, El hoyo was defeated by Tiger King, the docu-series about the criminal life of Joe Exotic who won the heart of the couple Kardashian/West (who already spoke to President Trump to get Joe out of jail) and became the #1 trending over Sunday night. On the same spot, the third season of Élite was immediately replaced by the hype for the fourth season of La casa de papel.

Many would think that quarantine has been a blessing for streaming services, but the emergency over COVID-19 radically changed the circle of life of the media products on online platforms. Films and TV series began to obey to the highest law of the hype that rules over the fashion system: they are consumed faster than ever, mostly because they're driven by advertising and social medias. This way, users feel the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and the binge-watching becomes bulimic. This process has many parallels with the system of online drops (whether it is for sneakers or Supreme): the life of these products has been accelerated by socials, and this is happening paradoxically in one of the slowest time in our history, when the entire world has slowed down. This has terrible consequences on the quality of contents themselves.

The results of this shift are extreme: it's not just that products end sooner (if you needed 2/3 days to complete a series of 8 episodes, when you've got nothing else to do you can watch them all in one afternoon), but they age sooner. In general, it looks like products become just pieces of a puzzle to complete to feel as a part of the community.


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It's sure that quarantine plays its part in this situation, but the main responsible for this frenzy is Netflix dropping strategy that is extremely confused. That's confirmed by some simple economical datas: only in 2018, Netflix spent almost 13 billions on its original productions, while in 2019 it almost reached 18 billions. This investment doesn't find a parallel in the increase of its users: in the summer 2019, Netflix reported its lowest subscriber growth numbers in three years and its first domestic subscriber loss since 2011 (then had to increase the subscribing prices for those who're already registered).

Concerning the quality of the products, following films as The Irishman by Martin Scorsese or Marriage Story by Noah Baumbach, the offer in the first quarter of 2020 is not up to the expectations (at least, for now). Even El hoyo, that was supposed to be the most upsetting film of our spring, was forgotten in less than a weekend. Considering that all the film festivals all around the world are shutting down due to Corona Virus, it's still unclear how Netflix will manage its "quality" products: only in 2020, it is scheduled to release the latest film by Spike Lee; Hillbilly Elegy by Ron Howard; The Midnight Sky directed by and starring George Clooney. These are all titles that would be diminished by only an online distribution (it's the same reason for which Marvel postponed the release of Black Widow, choosing to not upload it directly on Disney+ without releasing it in cinemas, too).


On the contrary, Prime Video opted for the opposite strategy, releasing less shows and films but concentrating on their quality (FleabagThe BoysThe Marvelous Mrs Maisel for the series, Beautiful Boy e Suspiria for cinema). Still, we'd have to admit that they still don't have the same public relevance of the ones sponsored by Netflix.

It's still soon to predict what could be the consequences of this new habits on the consumers, even when all of this free time will be over. Still, one thing is fore sure: today, films and series on streaming last as a cat on a highway - and as that cat, they rarely see a happy ending.