Rather than hitting the road for Christmas, U.S. Sen. Angus King would like Americans to settle into a cozy chair and binge on television.

This week, King asked the six major streaming services to offer Americans a gift for the holidays by making their offerings free temporarily “as a way to encourage people to make responsible choices and safely navigate this holiday season.”

“Each of us needs to do what we can to stop the spread of coronavirus during this challenging surge,” the second-term independent from Maine said on social media. “These companies have an opportunity to encourage Americans to stay home – slowing the virus’s spread – and boost national spirits during this festive time of year.”

So far, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney +, Apple TV+, Hulu and HBO Max have remained mum in response. Since Disney owns both Hulu and Disney+, there are five companies weighing the senator’s request.

Maine U.S. Sen. Angus King Greg Nash/Pool via Associated Press

King said in a letter to the providers they could offer free access during the holiday season “as a public service to those 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.”

Public health experts are worried that Christmas is coming just as the COVID-19 pandemic is reaching new heights, killing thousands of Americans daily in a country that hasn’t embraced precautions such as masks and social distancing anywhere near the degree of most others.

King told the streaming services they can help the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention convince people to stay home and limit their exposure to the deadly virus.

“We believe that your companies are in a unique position to help families cope with the effects of this health emergency on typical holiday traditions,” King said in his letter.

The senator told the companies that many Americans are already using their streaming platforms as “safe at home” alternatives to public gatherings.

As cold weather rolls in, he said, outdoor recreation is growing ever more restricted.

As a result, King said, “Americans are faced with even further social isolation — and increased free time — during the holidays. This is a risk; it could also be an opportunity for creative, socially responsible thinking.”

He said some people “are likely to choose to ignore public health advice and carry on their typical holiday traditions instead of remaining safely at home.”

“I look forward to hearing what steps you see feasible and able to be accomplished to limit the health emergency that COVID-19 is posing at this difficult time,” King said in his post. “Stopping the spread of COVID-19 and mitigating its economic and social impacts requires a whole-of-society effort, and this holiday season the social fabric of our society is particularly strained.”

“We encourage you to do everything you can to support and assist American families,” King said.


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