As you might imagine, the public reaction to this was very positive. And I think it's a very nice idea. In fact, on the surface it's a wonderful idea. I also think that once you get past the razor thin surface it is pretty meaningless.
For starters, I sense that most people who are traveling for the holidays or going out to holiday parties are not doing so because there's nothing to watch on TV.
I also sense, too, that not only do most households already likely subscribe to at least one of those services (Disney Plus alone has 86 million subscribers, which I assume are largely households), but the number of homes that don't subscribe to just one service AND would stay in if they got a temporary free subscription is small enough to not make a dent in health conditions.
Further, consider --
Can you imagine someone calling the parents and saying, "Mom, I won't be coming home for Christmas like we discussed because I got a free subscription to Hulu." Even more to the point -- and this is the Big Logic Problem in this -- if everyone in the country was to get free holiday subscriptions to these services...then you wouldn't have to stay home to use them, but you could keep your travel plans, fly home to your family, and know that you could watch your free streaming movies from there!
(Besides, if a person is so irresponsible to travel during a raging pandemic in the first place, staying inside for any reason, let alone because you could watch movies, is not likely a high priority.)
As for people who weren't planning to travel, but did expect to go to parties or socialize with friends, this streaming service offer has almost no impact on that either.
After all, it presupposes that people will stay at home inside to watch movies 16 hours a day. Every day. For at least a week. You have to assume (have to) that after a while, anyone -- but especially people who were irresponsible enough to plan to go to parties and socialize -- wouldn't, at some point, get tired of watching TV all the time and want to get out, and go do what they were planning to before. Go to holiday parties. Or socialize. And even if they stay inside, watching movies for 16 hours a day, all the time, but just decide they need to get out once -- go to one holiday party, not half a dozen, just one, or get together with friends for one night -- That is All It Takes to Get Infected. Once.
Further, people who were planning to get together with friends for the holidays but now have streaming movies to watch will be under absolutely no obligation to watch them alone. It is not unreasonable to think that people who wanted to socialize with their friends might now say, "Hey, we were planning on watching Hamilton. Want to come over and watch together? We can make a potluck party of it!"
Would there be some people who won't travel and stay at home watching their holiday streaming offer? Or not go to Christmas parties or socialize with friends, and just watch their free streaming services? Absolutely. But those are the people who most probably weren't planning to travel, go to parties or socialize...anyway!
So, all that this would conceivably impact are the few households who don't already subscribe to a streaming service AND would cancel their irresponsible travel plans and irresponsible party plans and irresponsible social plans -- which they know at this point are irresponsible and don't care -- AND stay at home to watch streaming movies alone AND watch them for 16 hours a day, every day, for a week...because without having these streaming services they feel there is nothing else to watch on TV.
The idea that Sen. King suggested is an extremely nice one. It is a nice one as a "thank you" gift to a nation that has been through a hellish year. Businesses are under no obligation to thank the public, of course -- Senate Republicans finally agreeing to pass the $3.4 trillion relief and stimulus package that House Democrats passed back in May would be a really cool and much better "thank you" -- but yes, it would be nice.
But it would have pretty much next to zero impact on the pandemic.
If people do want to help out and have an impact on not spreading the coronavirus, my own suggestion is to wear a face mask for a few weeks. And if you really want to do your civic good, don't go to parties. And if you do go, stay six feet apart. And wear a face mask.
That, or watch Hamilton alone with your family 56 times.
And yes, I know that there are some people who will do that...