Sen. Angus King (I., Maine) has asked Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and other streaming platforms to temporarily make their content free, as health officials urge Americans to stay home and cancel large holiday gatherings to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
In letters to six streaming companies, King said offering free content would be “a public service, aiming to boost national spirits and protect public health.”
“Let's give people an incentive to stay home during this tough time and to mitigate the heartbreak of not being able to be close to family. There are millions of people who really, frankly, can't afford these services,” said King in an interview with Yahoo Finance. “It’s a way of these companies being able to do their part to help us with this terrible situation.” (Netflix’s pricing model ranges from $9 to $16 per month; Amazon’s Prime is $119 a year; Hulu’s service starts at $6 a month.)
The idea is likely a long shot, but King is hopeful the companies might get on board. He also suggested it could attract more users for the streamers in the long run.
“I suspect if they had millions of new people on their services, some of those people would say, ‘Hey, this, this service is pretty good. I'd like to continue it and sign up’,” said King.
As of Monday afternoon, King said he had not yet heard back from the companies. Yahoo Finance also reached out to the streaming platforms for comment.
Jessica Smith is a reporter for Yahoo Finance based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter at @JessicaASmith8.