Several countries around the world have enforced strict curfews to curb the spread of coronavirus.
This has led to boredom in several households whose occupants have turned to streaming services such as Netflix as one of the ways to cope with it.
People have been gathering into various online communities and "watch parties" on Netflix to lessen the emotional stress placed by the quarantine.
The need to connect with their friends, family and like-minded individuals, who are residing abroad, has tremendously increased the usage of virtual private networks, as they enable users to bypass location-based restrictions and join a group of peers from anywhere around the globe.
For example, ZoogVPN reports that due to the high rise in demand for streaming Netflix in different regions, the usage of VPNs has nearly doubled since the start of the pandemic.
VPNs help users connect to an IP address in a country of their choice, therefore, by connecting to a VPN in the US, a user who is currently in France can fully access American Netflix, and vice versa.
“For most, social distancing has been an incredible strain emotionally. That’s why people are uniting to fight loneliness and depression online, where they can gather into communities or use VPNs to access content from their home countries,” said George Agal, the CEO of ZoogVPN, one of the new but fast-growing VPNs on the market.
“Interest in using VPNs for US Netflix has always been strong, but since the lockdown, we have seen a notable increase in multi-regional versions of the platform, as they have unique content tailored to the locals. Therefore, many that are stuck abroad during this time, have been leveraging private networks to access their country’s on-demand selection, which had led to an approximately 180 percent increase in the usage of our VPN.”
On-demand video services are experiencing a “golden age” of streaming: in the first weeks of March, time spent on these platforms grew by 34%, with the average viewing time rising from 116.4 billion minutes per week to 156.1 billion.
The growth in numbers does not come as a surprise, as people are leveraging streaming platforms not only for entertainment purposes, but as a tool to communicate with the people they care about.
For instance, the Netflix Party add-on on Google Chrome browser enables friends and family to watch the same show together and share their experience via a private chat room, making them feel connected and, in turn, fighting social isolation.
Such digital solutions can reduce homesickness for people who may feel stranded abroad, as they can access entertainment they are familiar with from their home setting.