Maine senator Angus King has suggested that in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, Netflix and other streamers should provide their services for free over the holidays. In a letter addressed to executives at Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, and Hulu, King said that free access to these services could help positively reinforce staying indoors over going to risky public gatherings that could further spread the virus.
"As organizations around the country continue to respond to the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, I am reaching out to discuss and consider the unique role that your companies play in providing content-based activities this holiday season," wrote King. "Specifically, I encourage you to temporarily remove any cost considerations for use of your services for current non-subscribers as a public service to who are seeking to remain safe and indoors this holiday season, as opposed to the risks involved as the nation sees a dramatic surge in pandemic cases."
His letter highlights guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while also stressing how isolation can be dangerous for certain individuals during the holidays. "At this time, we must find ways to incentivize people to follow guidance from the CDC, their employer, local public health officials, or school leaders," wrote King. "Unfortunately, some Americans are likely to choose to ignore public health advice and carry on their typical holiday traditions instead of remaining safely at home."
He noted that while these platforms might receive a huge influx of traffic because of an offer of free service, it could make a huge difference in keeping people indoors. "While your platforms would likely experience greater traffic as a consequence of extending service, we encourage you to provide temporary service at no cost to non-subscribers as a way to encourage people to make responsible choices and safely navigate this holiday season," he concluded.
Earlier this year, King urged internet service providers to improve technologies in order to assist the influx of people working from home.