Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) sent a last-minute Christmas request this week to the leaders of six major streaming services on behalf of the American public.
The senator urged Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney +, Apple TV+, Hulu, and HBO Max to offer their streaming services for free for a short period over the Christmas holiday. The idea is to encourage people to stay at home and stream rather than gather with friends and family members like they usually would.
"There are millions of people who are not going to be able to be with their families and be with their friends on this holiday season," King told Cheddar. "A lot of them can't afford streaming services."
Behind the idea is the recent guidance from the CDC advising holiday revelers to avoid large gatherings and stick to celebrations with just the members of their household.
"As cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to increase across the United States, the safest way to celebrate the winter holidays is to celebrate at home with people who live with you," the agency said.
While this is difficult for many to follow through on after nearly a year of isolation, King said the sacrifice is worth it. He noted that he and his wife celebrated Thanksgiving alone this year for the first time in 25 years, which he considered a "gesture of love" to friends and family.
Not everyone is thrilled at the prospect of spending Christmas watching The Mandalorian or The Queen's Gambit. The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board lightly criticized the idea in an op-ed titled "Angus King's Gambit," saying there's no evidence that the surge in streaming during the pandemic has done anything to stop the virus from spreading.
King called the response "weird" and said they don't seem to get it.
"It's a very simple idea, and I don't think it's their responsibility," he said. "I think it's something that they could do as a matter of public service."
The senator said he knows free streaming isn't going to cure COVID, but that it would be "a little Christmas present to the country."
In the meantime, King is staying focused on passing a stimulus package before the weekend and has been critical of his peers in the Senate who have waited so long to provide aid.
"I'm cautiously optimistic that we're going to be able to resolve this within hours if not overnight," King said. "On the other hand, we shouldn't be in this position."