The coronavirus pandemic continues with some states now banning in-person dining in restaurants and bars, participating in health club and fitness activities, gathering in groups of 50 or more, etc. As our country tries to get a grip on the hold the coronavirus has on our personal health and the health of your economy, subscription companies, particularly media companies, are feeling the impacts far and wide. In part two of our two-part series, we’ll look at how some of those subscription companies are coping.
Publishers Hit Hard with Impacts of the Coronavirus
The media industry is getting hit hard with the impacts of the coronavirus. Let’s start with the unprecedented need for 24/7 coverage. Reporters, editors, producers and other media staff are scrambling to keep the public updated on the latest coronavirus news, as the world scrambles to comprehend the pandemic. This becomes more and more difficult as media layoffs continue, despite the need for more news. In Tom Jones’ Poynter Report last Friday, he does an excellent job praising the media for their “vital coverage.”
At the same time, reporters and related staff are putting themselves at risk. Last week, three of CBS News’ New York-based employees tested positive for COVID-19, says The Hollywood Reporter. Following that exposure, CBS News asked employees to work from home while they sanitized their New York offices. Other news outlets are experiencing similar issues. Earlier this week, Vice Media asked its Brooklyn-based staff to work from home after learning that an employee may have been exposed to the coronavirus, says Publishers Daily. News outlets similarly affected are The Washington Post, Politico, the Daily Beast, Meredith Corp. and Conde Nast.
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As we noted in our most recent Five on Friday feature, many major and community-based publishers in the U.S. are bringing down their paywalls, so the public can get the most up-to-date, accurate information about the coronavirus. Among the many publishers who have removed their paywalls for stories related to COVID-19 are the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, The Atlantic, the Seattle Times, the Napa Valley Register, Times Free Press, The Daily Freeman and the McClatchy papers.
This is already a tough time for the media industry, and this will task it even further. We thank those on the front lines and behind the scenes bringing us the valuable information we need about the coronavirus to make decisions about our lives.
Broadband and Internet Providers Support Online Learning During Coronavirus Outbreak
Yesterday we wrote about the Federal Communications Commission’s pledge to Keep Americans Connected. Some of the nation’s top internet and wireless providers are taking it one step further to promote social distancing and to provide learning opportunities for children who can no longer attend school. Late last week, Charter Communications announced it would offer free access to Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi for 60 days for new K-12 and college student households who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription. Installation fees will be waived.
In addition, Charter said it will partner with school districts to ensure they are aware of the program and how they can better support students with remote learning. Spectrum, which does not have data caps, will also make its Wi-Fi hotspots available for public use. ABC News reported that T-Mobile would provide unlimited smartphone data to current subscribers and increase the data allowance to schools and students using their digital learning programs.
Last week, Xfinity notified its customers that it would offer new educational content for all grade levels, in partnership with Common Sense Media. To access that content, Xfinity customers can say “education” into their X1 or Flex Voice Remote. The company is also monitoring network reliability, recognizing their may be spikes in broadband usage.
Disney Releases ‘Frozen 2’ Three Months Ahead of Schedule
Like other companies, Disney has had a tough go because of the coronavirus, shutting down theme parks for the third time in company history. Previous closures were prompted by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and following September 11, 2001, reports the Washington Post. Disney will continue to pay workers through the end of the month, and travelers with unused tickets will be able to use them at a later date.
But Disney knows its audience. The family-oriented entertainment company released ‘Frozen 2’ in HD on Disney+ in the U.S. on Sunday, three months ahead of schedule. On Tuesday, the film will be released to audiences in Canada, the Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand, says TechCrunch. This could attract new subscribers, but that isn’t Disney’s primary goal.
“’Frozen 2’ has captivated audiences around the world through its powerful themes of perseverance and the importance of family, messages that are incredibly relevant during this time, and we are pleased to be able to share this heartwarming story early with our Disney+ subscribers to enjoy at home on any device,” said new Disney CEO Bob Chapek in a statement.
The release of the popular animated film will not make up for the lost revenue from closure of its beloved parks, but Elsa and Olaf will undoubtedly bring smiles to the faces of the millions of American schoolchildren during the pandemic.