#QuarantineAndChill: Streaming, podcasts, virtual tours are your best companions during this pandemic

#QuarantineAndChill: Streaming, podcasts, virtual tours are your best companions during this pandemic

As museums close, travel and large gatherings are restricted and major events, including professional sports, come to a grinding halt to limit the spread of COVID-19, there will be a heavier reliance on entertainment that can be enjoyed at home.

During periods of crisis, people might be more mindful of their spending but also have much more idle time, says Canadian Matthew Ball, former head of strategy for Amazon Studios.

“This will be good for any entertainment experience with a low-entry cost and that can sustain many, many hours of use,” Ball said.

That includes a lot of subscription streaming services, such as Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus and Netflix.

“There’s going be a lot of load placed on the platforms. That’s for sure,” said Guy Marion, CEO of San Francisco-based audience and subscription consulting firm, Brightback. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we start to see more outages, more delays, more bandwidth issues and support issues in the coming few weeks, as the load goes up massively on these streaming companies.”

From binge-watching to virtual museum tours, here are a few entertainment options to help distract, inform and ride out the isolation.

#QuarantineAndChill

While doomsday films, such as the Gwyneth Paltrow-led Contagion (2011) and Dustin Hoffman-starring Outbreak (1995) might be seeing renewed interest, there are plenty of escapist series to binge-watch. Series such as SuccessionFleabag, Game of Thrones and Chernobyl are the most recent Emmy and Golden Globe winners.

Schitt’s CreekThe Good Place and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel were among this year’s Emmy nominees acclaimed as much for their comedy as for being a source of wholesome comfort.

Succession, about a wealthy family’s internal feud for power, is among this year’s award-winning shows to binge-watch if stuck at home for prolonged periods. (HBO)

#QuarantineAndChill is a popular hashtag on Twitter, a play on the catchphrase “Netflix and chill.”

In fact, Netflix’s new dive into reality TV is also proving to be particularly successful.

Love Is Blind, a dating series in which 20- and 30-something people get to know each other without seeing what the other looks like until a proposal is made, was the No. 1 trending program in the United States when its season finale aired at the end of February.

Love is Blind, one of Netflix’s most watched series at the moment, matches singles looking for love without being able to see each other’s physical appearance. (Netflix)

According to creator Chris Coelen, it’s remained in the top two spots on Netflix in Canada and parts of Europe. He said there’s a “hopefulness” at the centre of the show, which adds to its appeal in dark times.

“That hopefulness is very relatable, and there’s an optimistic thread throughout the show,” said L.A.-based Coelen.

A lot of people are very scared by what’s going on with the coronavirus.… Regardless of where we are, the fact that we have a lot of choices to look at from an entertainment perspective is great.– Chris Coelen, Love Is Blind creator

“A lot of people are very scared by what’s going on with the coronavirus.… Regardless of where we are, the fact that we have a lot of choices to look at from an entertainment perspective is great.”

Pandemic podcasts, playlists

If the added screen time isn’t working as a stress-reliever, there are alternate ways to decompress and still stay on top of the news.

There’s been a “huge rise in demand” of news-based podcasts in general, and they seem to be experiencing an added boom related to the topic of COVID-19, according to the London-based broadcast consultancy firm, 4DC.

CNN’s myth-busting Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction is the second most popular podcast in Canada, according to the Apple charts.

Medical staff in Ottawa work at a COVID-19 assessment centre. News-based podcasts are seeing major growth, even more so with topics around the coronavirus. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

“This is unprecedented, what we’re seeing as a pandemic, and I think a lot people around the world are interested in understanding more than just the headlines,” said 4DC’s Howard Kosky.

BBC World Service’s Coronavirus Global Update and Epidemic with infectious disease specialist Dr. Celine Gounder and Ronald Klain, who served as the White House’s Ebola response co-ordinator, are other reliable options.

The podcasts tend to be a slightly deeper-dive conversation into the understanding of what’s going on and what people should be doing.– Howard Kosky, of 4DC

“The podcasts tend to be a slightly deeper-dive conversation into the understanding of what’s going on and what people should be doing,” said Kosky.

If you’re looking for something completely unrelated to the virus, Apple’s other most popular podcasts in Canada are the serial killer true crime series The Dating Game Killer, New York Times’s The Daily and The Joe Rogan Experience, from comedian Joe Rogan.

Keeping those earbuds in might help with social distancing, and music streaming service Spotify has been seeing a surge in the number of coronavirus-related playlists.

Particularly popular ones include  “COVID-19 Quarantine Party” with songs, such as Travis Scott’s Sicko Mode, Britney Spear’s Toxic and The Police’s Don’t Stand So Close To Me. The “Coronavirus Hand Washing Playlist” consists of songs with choruses lasting at least 20 seconds — the length of time needed to meet proper hand-washing guidelines.

Virtual museum tours

The Louvre in Paris announced it’s closing its doors to the public in light of COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean patrons have to sacrifice their dose of culture.

Some of the world’s most famous institutions offer virtual tours that can be done from the comfort of your couch. That includes the Guggenheim in New York City, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, and Paris’s Musée d’Orsay.

Google Arts & Culture curates multiple tours in one app and also allows for virtual visits to historic sites and attractions around the world.

The spreading coronavirus epidemic has forced the Louvre in Paris to close its doors but there are other options for art-lovers to get their cultural fix online. (Rafael Yaghobzadeh/The Associated Press)

Digging through the vault

With major entities, such as Disney, Apple and Netflix, halting production on films and TV shows as a result of the new coronavirus, the content online right now from streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney Plus might have to satisfy audiences for a while to come.

“This will have a profound effect on late 2020 and 2021,” said Ball. “However, there’s also more TV being made today than ever before — especially abroad. Consumers will probably still have too much to watch even if this lasts months.”

To avoid the risk of viewer fatigue, Marion said streaming services will have to be “better at serving up their inventory” by digging into their own back catalogue and suggesting titles people might not know about.

The more data that they get, the more able they are to make associations with data science to make a finer, targeted offering that you’re going to like.– Brightback CEO Guy Marion, on how streamers use user data to suggest more titles

So whatever selections you make, they’re being monitored.

The more content you watch, the more streaming services — many of which invest a lot of money in figuring out people’s viewing habits — will tailor their suggested titles to suit your preferences.

“The more data that they get, the more able they are to make associations with data science to make a finer, targeted offering that you’re going to like,” said Marion. “If you’re watching 200 shows over the next week, they have way more information on the types of shows you like to watch.”

So while you #QuarantineAndChill, don’t be surprised if streamers use the time to better figure out even more content for you to peruse.

CBC | Arts News

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