Kevin James in Netflix series The Crew

The COVID-19 pandemic along with other circumstances made streaming the go-to form of entertainment in 2020. Shutdowns and lockdowns made binge-watching a way of life for those sheltered in their homes. As a result, streaming service subscriptions surpassed a huge global milestone in 2020.

According to Variety, streaming service subscriptions surpassed over a billion subscribers worldwide. The exact count was reported as 1.1 billion, according to a 2020 study by the Motion Picture Association. Over the past year, people watch film and television series across every streaming service possible as many people across the globe were stuck in lockdown due to the pandemic. The study revealed 55% of U.S. adults stated using streaming platforms more frequently as the main viewing source of films and television series. Much of this isn’t surprising given Netflix’s domination in 2020.

Given the hard year many experienced worldwide, the growth of streaming platforms wasn’t a real surprise. MPA chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin commented on the milestone:

Despite the challenges to the global economy brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the film television, and streaming industry has once again risen to the occasion. Streaming experienced another huge boom, with new entrants into the market and more than one billion subscriptions worldwide for the first time ever.

But streaming services weren’t the only ones seeing an increase in viewership. 46% of U.S. adults admitted to watching more network and cable television in the past year. Mobile devices saw a rise in viewership as over 85% of children and over 55% of adults use them to view movies and TV shows while at home. According to the MPA’s report, some of the most coveted key adult demographics – adults ages 18 to 24 and 25 to 39 – watched the most content throughout 2020.

In the same report, the global box office fell by 72%. The box office intake for 2020 topped off at $12 billion compared to $42.5 billion in 2019. To put things in perspective, the huge dip was due to movie theaters shutting down as the COVID-19 pandemic caused citizens worldwide to shelter in place.

To be honest, COVID-19 and lockdowns pushed an issue that has grown over the years – streaming platforms slowly eroding the hold of the movie theater industry. This might be surprising given how the global box office has grown rapidly in the last decade. You can thank the superhero genre and blockbuster franchises for keeping the film industry afloat. At the same time, more people, particularly Millennials and Gen Z, have become more comfortable with watching films and bingeing shows from the comfort of their couch.

As seen and heard recently, the shift in viewing habits has pushed studios to create their platforms and try different models because of COVID-19. These moves have received some pushback from major directors and mixed reactions from actors and actresses. Hopefully soon, streaming platforms and Hollywood will be able to co-exist, especially after such a huge milestone.

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