Will We Run Out of Content to Watch During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic?

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted every aspect of our lives — including the entertainment industry. Countless television shows and movies have had to delay their production or cancel it altogether to keep casts and crews safe. 

With the current halt in production across a variety of television shows and movies, you have to wonder— will we run out of content to stream during quarantine? 

Will we run out of content during coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Netflix | Photo Illustration by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Is Netflix going to run out of new content?

It’s no surprise that streaming has increased, given the stay-at-home order that we’re all expected to follow. Fortunately for us, Netflix releases every episode of a new series at once, which means entire seasons need to be done before they’re released. While that’s a good thing for Netflix generally, it could also be a curse during a time when the production of new series is stunted. 

According to Bloomberg, Netflix has plans to release multiple projects a week for the next few months. For now, that’s a good thing — Netflix will be beating out its competitors in terms of new content. In the long run, Netflix might struggle to keep up that pace.

Regular cable programming is another story. Most shows set for release this summer and fall — including the FX series Fargo — are going to be delayed because they aren’t finished. 

Netflix says there’s no cause for concern

“Our 2020 slate of series and films are largely shot and are in post-production stages in locations all over the world,” Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s Chief Content Officer, told analysts during their quarterly earnings call. “And we’re actually pretty deep into our 2021 slate. We don’t anticipate moving the schedule around much, and certainly not in 2020.” This is great news for all of us relying on Netflix to keep us entertained during the pandemic.

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Netflix is currently working on more than 200 projects remotely, including scripted series, animated shows, and movies — that’s 200-some projects to look forward to in the next year or so. Eventually, Netflix could run out of content to release to subscribers, but that would take a considerable amount of time.

Unlike other entertainment platforms, Netflix doesn’t need to rely on “being open” to remain profitable. Viewers consume Netflix content where they’re supposed to be — at home. “The internet is growing; it’s a bigger part of people’s lives — thankfully,” CEO Reed Hastings told investors on the call. 

The future of Netflix content 

Despite the confidence that Netflix’s leadership exuded during their quarterly recap, the fact of the matter is the future remains uncertain. When it comes to 2021 content, the company expressed in a letter to shareholders that it’s unclear “how long it will be until we can safely restart physical production in various countries.” Regardless of that uncertainty, Netflix is “working hard to complete the content our members want, and [are] complementing this effort with additional licensed films and series.”

For now, Netflix is ahead of its biggest competitors, including streaming platforms like Disney+. What’s more, Netflix is willing to help competitors by serving as a distribution platform for stranded feature films, according to The Verge

Speaking of competitors, what about new Disney+ content?

“Disney doesn’t have much left in the cupboard,” per Bloomberg. Having released Toy Story 4Avengers: Endgame, and Aladdin already, Disney is quickly running out of content to give subscribers. Sure, Disney+ could move up the release of Mulan or Black Widow, but that wouldn’t be good for business. 

To sustain interest in the streaming service, Disney+ has to bide its time. For now, subscribers will have to tune in to the nature-related documentaries and cooking shows that Disney+ released in April. As far as releasing new content, Disney is in a bit of trouble. TV shows like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier aren’t done, and they can’t be worked on until it’s safe to do so. 

Fortunately for now, it seems extremely unlikely that we’ll run out of content to keep us entertained during the coronavirus pandemic.