The Role of Live Streaming During the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Dania Jeon 


The COVID-19 pandemic has swept across the globe with more than a fifth of the world’s population being placed under government-mandated lockdown as of April 16th. Only businesses deemed essential have been allowed to remain open, leaving many other businesses in dire financial straits as they struggle to remain afloat. Audience-based industries, specifically those in the arts and entertainment, including Broadway plays, concerts, and religious services, have been faced with a serious dilemma: adapt to the new realities of the coronavirus pandemic or face extinction. Many of these businesses and organizations have chosen the former of the two options and have resorted to live streaming in a struggle to remain open. 


The Metropolitan Opera House in New York City is a prime example of the way live streaming has managed to provide an outlet for performance art in these troubled times. Since the Met Opera’s shutdown, their revenue, which came mostly through ticketing, has come to a halt. Performers have also struggled as audiences have been stripped away. Luckily, performing arts venues have managed to find light in their situation as many have begun to stream live performances on their websites, along with on demand apps on Apple, Amazon, and Roku.


“During this extraordinary and difficult time, the Met hopes to brighten the lives of our audience members even while our stage is dark. Each day, a different encore presentation from the company’s Live in HD series is being made available for free streaming on the Met website, with...outstanding complete performances from the past 14 years of cinema transmissions, starring all of opera’s greatest singers,” said representatives of the Metropolitan Opera House in a recent post on their website. 


Live streaming has also helped unite another group of performers. Musicians like Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, and members of Coldplay have held online concerts through Instagram live streams in order to remain connected with their fans.  


“A lot of artists have decided they want to make staying home a little bit easier for everybody,” said John Legend during his recent livestream performance. 


Similarly, Korean boy band and pop sensation BTS has announced an online concert weekend, also known as BangBangCon, hosting a special streaming party with videos from all their past concerts. The two, 12-hour streams were held on YouTube Live, as well as on their own social media platform ‘Weverse’, where fans all over the world were able to sync their light sticks together, an interactive part of a traditional BTS live performance. 


Many people believe that the concept of online concerts could become a larger phenomenon as it has proven so successful in the past month.


“Concerts could become part of existing services, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, etc,” said William Moylan, a music professor at UMass Lowell in a recent article on live streamed concerts.


Unsurprisingly, live streams have not been limited to the performing arts. Many religious centers have taken to live streaming services as well after being instructed to shut down to avoid further spreading the virus. 


“In some churches, weekly ‘attendance’ is actually growing as a result of live-streaming. Community groups, Bible studies and Sunday school classes are being conducted via videoconferencing” said Peter Wehner in the New York Times article “How Should Christians Act During a Pandemic?”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            


Live streaming has allowed organizations and businesses not only to reach their live audience, but to reach people who would normally be beyond their reach.


“In times of pandemic, live streaming became an important part of our lives and let us feel connected to each other without leaving our rooms,” said Husieva Anna during an interview published in the article “Why coronavirus boosted live streaming”.  


“The connection to the world is what broadcasting is about and that is the main reason why it will keep getting more and more popular even after the quarantine,” Anna said.



Header Credit: Wink News


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