Streamers Get Political

Streamers Are Taking a Stand

March 15, 2022

International conflict is on everyone's minds these days. It's easy to escape streaming content to also escape the confusion and anger that comes with being an observer to conflict. But streaming services are starting to step into the fray by using their platform (and audience) to send a message.

Streaming Services Increasingly Becoming Activist Channels

The past few years have proven a boon for streaming service growth. People are tuning in for on-demand content and escaping the world of live TV. That means people are consuming less content from news networks. Nevertheless, that doesn't mean people are uninformed. Streaming services have been ramping up their political arms and producing far more content around current events.

1. Ukraine Content Was Available in Days

The ongoing war in Ukraine is a perfect example of how streaming services are using their platforms as activist arms. Take Hulu, for example. Within days of the conflict, Hulu had produced and was streaming "Two Men at War", a documentary exploring the backgrounds of Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky.

Over at Netflix, the streamer began promoting a 2015 documentary on Ukraine's most recent revolution. "Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom" is an Academy Award-winning documentary that, consequently, fits into the current narrative despite its production and release predating the current war.

2. The Danger of Getting Political

For the first time, streaming services are also making their political voices heard by denying service to entire countries. Such has been the case with Netflix and others pulling out of Russia.

Is there are consequence? Perhaps. Russia may make the move to ban Netflix for good within the country. And those who align politically with Russia may choose to cancel their subscriptions. But Netflix and others have certainly weighed their options and found that taking a stand on certain political issues is worth the potential loss of revenue from one source (versus the cost of inaction and reprisal of customer loss from other sources).

3. What Does the Future Hold?

Consumers are increasingly expecting companies to be political. This could be a double-edged sword, and in some countries, may ultimately lead to some legislation efforts in the US and abroad. We aren't there (yet), but we're watching.

This Week's Streaming Guide

1. PBS Frontline Special on Putin Streams Today

This week's Frontline episode, "Putin's Road to War" streams tonight (Tues., Mar. 15) at 9 PM EST. -

  2. Netflix Explores the True Crime of a Major Bank Heist 

"Hei$t: The Great Robbery of Brazil’s Central Bank" streams on Netflix Wednesday (Mar. 16) on Netflix. -

  3. Netflix "Big Mouth" Spin-Off Launching 

The adult-themed series "Big Mouth" is getting a spin-off. Watch "Human Resources" on Netflix this Friday, Mar. 18. -

4. Raunchy Swedish Comedy "Lust" Launching on HBO Max

The comedy spotlights women over 40. Streaming on HBO Max this Friday, Mar. 18. -

News and Industry Developments

1. Netflix Increases Prices in UK and Ireland

The company continues its price increases in its most well-established Western markets. -

2. Disney+ Is Winning in Nielsen Ratings

The company's content is making massive gains in popularity. -

3. CNN's Streaming Service Launching on March 29

The much-rumored service will be available by the end of this month. -

4. Spotify May be #1, but Amazon Prime Music Soon to be #2

Amazon's music streaming service is set to become the #2 music streaming service. -

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