Even as businesses begin to open up again, the coronavirus pandemic is still fueling streaming viewership — and media companies see an opportunity to expand overseas.
Fox will launch Fox News International starting in Mexico on August 20, with plans to be in 20 countries by the end of 2020. ViacomCBS is planning streaming services in Australia and Latin America, among other countries, slated for next year. Disney will also launch an overseas version of their streaming content called Star.
Even streaming giant Netflix sees a chance to extend its reach, with its eyes set on Southeast Asia. The company told Reuters it will continue to expand its sub-$5 monthly mobile-only streaming plans there and increase local language content. It currently has more than a million subscribers in the region.
Streaming has been one of the only profitable segments of many media companies’ quarterly earnings during the pandemic with no signs of stopping. Video view times in July were up 28 percent year-over-year in the U.S., according to a new study from Adobe. The rate is about the same as it was this March, when the first stay-at-home orders were put in place.
The data falls in line with recent research from Conviva, which found that pandemic global viewership has only increased throughout the year. Domestically, streaming viewership now makes up 25 percent of total viewership in the U.S. compared to 19 percent last year, per Nielsen’s total audience report.
Some analysts point to a second wave of shutdowns to explain the consistently high viewership through the summer. Other analysts believe the return of live sports has drawn viewers back to their televisions. In either case, the pandemic has shown that consumers are willing to consider entertainment as part of their essential budgets, and media companies are hoping the global phenomenon is here to stay.