In 2012, there was a shift in the United States: Americans spent more money downloading and streaming movies than buying discs. This trend has since then expanded to regions such as Southeast Asia due to the global and interconnected media markets. However, this study focused on the past few years and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on film distribution on video streaming platforms. With a large population in the world being in quarantine, working from home, and also due to the closing on movie theaters, researchers explored the impacts of the pandemic on the development and expansion of video streaming platforms.
The cinema theater has always been the primary recipient of movies in the minds of movie producers since it provides a higher level of satisfaction to the audience due to the big screen and the cinema experience in itself. OTT platforms (over-the-top) offer a different experience to the viewer, which is considered less satisfactory to the viewer. However, online platforms do offer significant features such as simplicity, flexibility, and interactivity.
In the case of Southeast Asia, the first local video streaming platform in the region was launched in the Philippines in 2010, called iWant. From the country’s biggest broadcasting network, ABS-CBN Corporation — owning iWant — turned over the years into “the leading media and entertainment company.” The Philippines have a population of 106 million people, with a median age of 24.4 which is very young: most of this population has both English and digital proficiency, leading to it being the population of the world spending the most time on the internet.
During the pandemic, the penetration of streaming video has increased with populations forced to work from home. At the same time, the cinema industries were negatively impacted by the pandemic, between stay-at-home orders preventing both movies to be filmed and populations to go watching movies in theaters. Cinema operations were suspended for months, pushing populations to get their content online on video platforms.
In conclusion, the pandemic has reshaped behavioral norms in terms of consuming video content. The “virtual” world offers new resolutions to concerns raised by the pandemic, reaching a compromise between sacrificing the theater experience but yet still providing ways for the populations to access video content.