While the coronavirus sends the stock market plummeting, two sectors are actually holding their own: streaming services and online gaming. In fact, with more and more people opting to stay indoors and avoid crowded areas like concerts and movie halls, Netflix, Disney Plus and strategy games such as Plague have received a much needed push and consolidated their growth in the last few weeks. Reports also say that consumers who hadn’t signed up for these previously are now beginning to do so, considering the affordability and long hours of boredom.
Netflix&Disney-forward and upward
In the week ending February 27, Netflix shares were up 0.8% which isn’t much, but way better than most others, while the S&P 500 index plunged 8.3%. Overall, it gained approximately 17% so far this year and has a market value of $161.8 billion. Popular with viewers is a docu-series titled “Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak,” which shows the efforts made by healthcare workers to battle a virus outbreak. Walt Disney, in the meantime, declared its 2020 Q1 results in February and said that its earnings far exceeded investor expectations. The company, which claimed that 10 million customers signed up on the first day of its streaming service launch, has since then recorded robust, upward growth. It reached as many as 28.6 million subscribers (26 million subscribers by the end of the quarter, and over 2.6 million more in January 2020) and analysts now wonder whether the initial forecast of 60-90 million subscribers by 2024 will now have to be revised. However, these figures do not account for the impact of the closure of its Hong Kong and Shanghai Disneyland parks, owing to the virus scare.
Experts studying the digital media space point out that bundled streaming services are likely to benefit the most in the current scenario. “For example, Disney’s low $12.99 bundle of Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ may be an attractive offer for a recent cord-cutter who is still trying to get a cable-like feel whereas Netflix plans range between $8.99 and $15.99 without offering daily news programs – something that some might think is crucial if the coronavirus truly forced people to stay inside,” Fox Business quotes ReachTV’s CEO Lynnwood Bibbens as saying.
In China, live streaming channels such as Douyu and Huya are gaining from the increased demand. Interestingly, Douyu’s headquarters is in Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic. VentureBeat reports that globally, live streaming rose by 17% to reach nearly 500 million view hours in January 2020. Some of these sites include Amazon’s Twitch, Facebook Gaming and Microsoft Mixer. The other channels that stand to profit in the current scenario include, Facebook, Amazon, Peloton, and even Slack.
Gaming-the biggest gainer
Perhaps the biggest gainer in this whole coronavirus saga is online gaming. The strategy game ‘Plague’, which was created in 2012 by Ndemic Creations, has seen an increase in the number of people purchasing it post the Coronavirus outbreak. For the uninformed, Plague is a simulation game that lets users develop pathogens that destroy the human race. According to CBS News, ‘Plague’ is currently the top paid iPhone app at $0.99, beating most other apps. Reports, however have it that it has been banned in China now.
Users are also experimenting with cloud gaming (which lets them login via an internet service to a cloud games provider for a fee and play games with all its special effects without any hardware), now that they have more time at home. Honor Of Kings, a multiplayer battle arena has also recorded a steep increase in subscribers. Video gaming industry analyst Daniel Ahmad tweeted in February that: “Mobile games have (also) been impacted (due to Coronavirus), with Tencent’s Honor of Kings experiencing downtime recently as more than 100 million people try to log in each day, up from 60 million or so prior to the lunar new year period.”
All that’s very well, but we wonder what might happen if those who work for the internet companies and the streaming services have to stay at home and can’t work? Hopefully, we’ll never have to get there!