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Senator Seeks Free Holiday Streaming to Battle COVID-19

Netflix was among streaming platforms getting D.C. pitch to provide free holiday streaming (Image credit: Netflix)

Citing CDC guidance on community actions, Maine Independent Sen. Angus King has asked six major streaming services, including Netflix and Hulu,  to make content available for free over the holidays as a public service to "encourage Americans to stay home and slow the spread of the coronavirus."

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Letters from the senator have been sent to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney +, Apple TV+, Hulu, and HBO Max.

In them, King says those streaming services are in a unique position to provide "safe entertainment options" by allowing nonsubs to access them as a public service to raise spirits and lower infection rates.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued guidance recommending that specific community actions be taken to limit the exposure of the virus, and has additionally encouraged Americans to avoid their usual holiday travel to reduce transmission of the coronavirus…” King wrote, suggesting free streaming was one of them.

“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. 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 told them. "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.”

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King pointed out that he had pressed ISPs to provide more access back in March, and they had responded. 

Getting the letters were Netflix Chairman Reed Hastings, Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Studios SVP Mike Hopkins; Rebecca Campbell, chairman of international operations and direct-to-consumer for Disney; Apple CEO Tim Cook, and WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar.