The media phenomenon of 'LOL' on Amazon Prime Video

How and why Italy is moving towards streaming TV services such as Prime Video and Netflix. The "LOL" case. 

In Italy, the consumption of audio-visual entertainment has slowly been transitioning from cable television to streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+. However, the recent COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this shift and accustomed the general public to vast catalogues offered by on-demand services, changing the approach to media consumption.

In January 2021, a study conducted by the Italian digital marketing consultancy Sensemakers, demonstrated a significant growth in the consumption of video on demand services by 52% compared to January 2020. On the other hand, the market for cable TV only grew by 11%, confirming the start of a new era, in which media is mainly consumed through SVoD (subscription video on demand), TVoD (transactional video on demand) or AVoD (advertising-based video on demand).

It can be assumed that many opened up to streaming services during the first instituted lockdown in Spring 2020, which was also when Disney+ launched on the Italian territory. The content broadcasted on television dictated by the weekly schedule and alternated by long advertising sessions deprives the audience of the consumption choice, often causing a preference towards video on demand.

The imposed lockdown also accustomed the majority of Italians to take advantage of Amazon’s Prime services, as it offers both free shipping for online shopping as well as its own streaming service, called Prime Video. Lately, this streaming platform has been actively pursuing the introduction of live and linear programming to deliver an innovative consumption approach to content originally designed for traditional TV.

The most recent example is the Italian comedy game show LOL: Chi Ride È Fuori, hosted by singer Fedez and producer Mara Maionchi. 

LOL: Chi Ride È Fuori is inspired by the Japanese format  HITOSHI MATSUMOTO Presents Documental and sees 10 professional comedians compete against each other by trying to make their opponents laugh, while remaining serious for six consecutive hours. Whoever manages to resist at the jokes and gags of the other competitors wins one hundred thousand euros, to be donated to a charitable cause that the winner chooses.

The decision of publishing this content on Prime Video, led to benefits related to both the production aspect as well as the censorship one. In fact, the large investments by Amazon allowed for the product to benefit a higher standard compared to the products broadcasted on television, as the digital market reaches the widest and most diverse audience possible. The censorship benefits were that there was no need to include a filter for swear words, increasing the authenticity of the participants’ reactions while playing the game.

Amazon recently announced that the show is the most viewed on Prime Video in Italy, creating numerous online public discussions on social media, where people comment and post memes regarding the funniest scenes, inciting many users to watch the show and increasing the product’s popularity.

After the release of LOL, the social media accounts of the participants in the show have had a surge in followers and the show was not only discussed online but also in the newspapers.

The phenomenon of LOL certifies a real triumph for a television program that airs on a paid streaming platform, which the audience can see whenever, while still embodying the qualities of traditional TV programs. This is because the program still creates a hype around it that leads the audience to tune in more or less at the same time as everyone else in order to avoid spoilers, to understand the memes and to be able to talk about it with friends. Therefore, LOL is more similar to a traditional television program than it seems, as it brings people together creating a community that discusses and remembers the product treating it as a tangible event in Italian’s media culture. 

The statistics regarding the shift of audiences in media consumption, the recent social involvement with the show LOL on Amazon Prime Video, and the quality as well as quantity of the content offered on streaming platforms, indicate that the general public is beginning to prefer digital consumption to the traditional TV programming. The world of entertainment is more alive than ever due to the quarantine for COVID-19, however television no longer seems to be the first choice for either customers or the industry.