Normally, during a time like this, we would turn to our normal entertainment avenues for distractions. Unfortunately, we don’t currently have that option. Every major sport you can think of has been canceled. Even the Summer Olympics in Tokyo look like being canceled (and might even have been canceled by the time you read this – the situation is changing by the hour). Movie sets are locked down. Production of television shows has been halted. Not only are we stuck at home, but we’re stuck at home with very little to look to as a distraction from what’s going on outside our windows.
Because of the lack of alternatives, streaming services are currently more in demand than at any point in their history. The enormous back catalog of movies, television shows, and original productions on services like Amazon and Netflix should be enough to keep people occupied for a few days, and new customers are signing up for those services in huge numbers. That’s great for both companies, but the sudden surge in popularity brings new challenges with it. Their servers have never been placed under such a huge stain before, and nor have so many different people in so many different locations wanted to access the same stream at the same time. It’s probably a nice problem for the companies to have, but it’s a problem all the same.
Although both services – along with other services like them, such as Disney Plus – have always been popular, they’ve never felt as necessary as they are right now. Streaming services like this are modeled on the popularity and success of online slots websites. The concept of going to a website and playing one single online slots or casino has long since been outdated, and now the most successful sites offer hundreds of online slots UK in one place. Netflix, Amazon, and their competitors saw what the online slots websites were doing, and how they were stealing market share away from physical casinos, and made the same method work for movies and television shows. They put companies like Blockbuster out of business in the process of doing so, but they became the go-to entertainment options of the future. Now, they’re becoming essential entertainment must-haves in the present. It’s important that they remain online and are able to cope.
Netflix hasn’t reported any issues so far, but some Amazon customers have reported latency and access problems in the past few days. Now, keen to ensure that customers can gain access to their services during these difficult times, the company has responded with not one but two measures designed to ensure that people can access their streaming services easily and that people aren’t being shut out of accounts or left behind because they’re isolated.
The first of those measures is one that you’re unlikely to notice unless you regularly stream movies or television shows in 4K, and you won’t notice at all unless you live in Europe. Because of high demand within the content – especially in Italy, for obvious reasons – bandwidth and bitrate issues were causing buffering. Amazon has responded by reducing streaming quality in the affected areas. Anyone watching in SD or HD won’t notice any difference, and the move is expected to completely resolve the network congestion problems that some users had reported. With an increase in daily use of more than sixty percent in Europe, the fact that Amazon had to take action is unsurprising. It’s now to be hoped that house-bound Europeans can continue to watch shows uninterrupted and in peace. There’s not yet any suggestion that a similar move will be required in the United States of America or elsewhere in the world, but the situation is being monitored.
At the same time as reducing streaming quality to allow more people online at the same time, Amazon is also expanding the number of people who can have access to a single Amazon Prime account. Account sharing is a major problem for all of the large-scale streaming companies, with password and account sharing cutting into revenues and profits. Amazon was looking at measures to curb the problem and lock people who weren’t paying out of accounts, but they’ve relented on that idea for now until the problem is over. Instead, up to six people are now allowed access to an account under the same password – an increase from the five that came as standard previously. Their hope is that people who may be isolated on their own – for example, the elderly – will now be able to log into an account belonging to a family member and have access to entertainment that would otherwise have been denied to them.
Given that Amazon frequently gets a lot of bad press for profiteering and also been subjected to many accusations about the treatment of staff within warehouses, any positive publicity is welcome for the company at the moment, and these moves are sure to get them some. They should be applauded for doing the right thing in difficult circumstances, though, and we’re happy to give them that recognition. It’s now to be hoped that some of the major movie studios do what they’ve been hinting they might do for several days, which is release pending major releases directly to streaming services instead of waiting for movie theaters to re-open. Nobody knows when that day might come, and the films aren’t making them any money in the meantime. They might as well make some cash rather than none at all – and they’re likely to win themselves new fans and wide audiences in the process.
Having a range of great entertainment at our fingertips won’t solve the problem that the world currently faces, but it might make it more tolerable for a lot of people. That’s why we welcome these moves from Amazon, and we hope that they’re the start of a series of public-friendly moves by big companies in the near future.