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Coronavirus quarantines are changing our streaming habits

Published May 13th, 2020 10:04PM EDT
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Image: Netflix

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  • With everyone stuck at home right now, thanks to coronavirus quarantines, Netflix and other streaming services are one of the most popular entertainment choices at the moment. If you’re not one of the millions of gamers engrossed in Animal Crossing right now, that is.
  • New data shows that people’s streaming habits are changing in noticeable ways, with more people gravitating to animated and family fare during this stressful and uncertain time.
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The longer these coronavirus quarantines stretch on, the more a subtle shift is increasingly reflecting itself in the kinds of TV shows and movies that streaming audiences are turning to for entertainment and a bit of relief from the awful state of the world.

Me, personally, I’ve been using this time to catch up on shows and movies that have been on my list for a while, which can include everything from Netflix’s super-popular international hit series Money Heist to shows like The Good Place. It’s a source of entertainment that’s been invaluable, especially since there’s a pretty intense Animal Crossing: New Horizons player in my household who spends a lot of time caught up in Nintendo’s latest. Among the general public, meanwhile, the longer the quarantines drag on it seems that audiences may be gravitating to a specific kind of streaming content in particular.

The team at streaming search engine service Reelgood has looked at trends and behavior patterns from its more than 4 million monthly users, with this chart showing which movie and TV show genres are most popular among consumers right now, with most US states still shut down to some degree.

No surprise, family and especially animation have gained considerably during this period, partly because — well, with so much bad news doing everyone’s head in right now, it stands to reason more people are going to increasingly look for an antidote to that in their entertainment choices. Not only that, but, remember, there are millions of young children who can’t go to school right now who are having to stay quarantined with their parents at home.

Image source: Reelgood

With TV and movie productions broadly shut down around the world right now as a result of coronavirus-related precautions, look for animation to be a rare bright spot for companies involved in content creation right now. Much of that work can be done remotely, and it’s not like pixels need to be socially distanced from each other the same way that actors and crews on set do.

“Clients are doubling down on animation,” Chris Prynoski, president and founder of Titmouse, which produces Big Mouth as well as Star Wars: Galaxy of Adventures for Lucasfilm, told Forbes this week. “They don’t know when they’ll be able to shoot (live-action) again. With animation, even though it takes a long time, they know it’s going to happen.”

Along these same lines, Netflix struck an agreement with Nickelodeon that was announced at the end of 2019 to produce animated features and TV series for the streamer. All of which is to say, if you’ve been bingeing less of shows like Ozark and Breaking Bad in recent weeks — and more of things like Pixar movies — just know that you’re not the only one.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.