HBO Now streaming jumps 40% as coronavirus measures grip US

And, yeah, people are binge-watching that documentary about the Ebola crisis seven times more than usual.

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Joan E. Solsman
2 min read

Westworld's third season premiered just as coronavirus-containment measures were taking hold in the US. 


HBO has seen a surge of streaming on HBO Now, the direct-to-consumer service for the popular premium cable channel, as US measures to slow the spread of the new coronavirus are forcing people to entertain themselves more at home. In the last 10 days, time spent with HBO Now jumped more than 40% from its four-week average, HBO said in a Medium post Tuesday. 

The coronavirus, which causes the respiratory disease known as COVID-19, has spread rapidly around the world into a pandemic. Cities, states and countries have mandated quarantines, health care systems are struggling and entire industries have shut down. Hollywood has been no exception: Movie theaters are shuttered, film and television productions are on hold and big-budget films are being delayed months. 

HBO Now said its documentary Ebola: The Doctor's Story -- a timely topic in the pandemic -- has had more than seven times greater viewing since March 14 compared with recent weeks. 

Viewers are binge watching and diving into HBO's library too. In the most recent week, daily binge viewing -- watching three or more episodes of HBO's series -- increased 65% from the prior four weeks. The Wire has nearly tripled its recent audience, and both Sex and the City and The Sopranos are doubling their audiences, HBO said. 

Westworld is the top series on the platform right now, aligning with the show's third season premiere. But HBO also called out other titles for having big bumps in popularity: Since March 14, Euphoria's audience is double its four-week average, and Big Little Lies, Chernobyl, Game of Thrones and His Dark Materials have all seen pops greater than 50%. 

"In times like this, television can be a powerful tool to bring people together emotionally when they are not able to be together physically," Cheryl Idell, WarnerMedia's chief research officer for WarnerMedia Entertainment and its streaming division, said in the post. "We're encouraged that these elevated numbers indicate that people are taking isolation efforts seriously, and we hope that continues to be the case."

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