One of the most respected voices in the media industry, Barry Diller, recently predicted that 90% of cinemas are going to go out of business. Diller, founder of the Fox Broadcasting Company, previous CEO of Paramount Pictures, former stakeholder of QVC and now Chairman of the IAC, believes that due to changing consumer habits, only 10% of movie theatres will survive. Early Access to new release titles via VoD platforms is here to stay, and this means that theatrical releases are having a near death experience.
It seems that this shift on SVoD services is propping up box office earnings early on, and according to Omdia’s analysis of the top 25 titles by box office revenue, titles released on a day-and-date strategy generated 54% of box office total (equating to an average of $27.5m per title).
Somewhat poor theatrical results in July can be partially attributed to the ongoing pandemic, but this shift to SVoD and PVoD simultaneous releases surely plays a massive role too. Consumer habits have changed due to more streaming content in the home, and this is cannibalising the Box Office. But as this pattern continues, more and more distributors will choose to feed their streaming services, as subscriber growth is, after all, the main aim of all media companies.
So what’s working, what’s not, and who could do better?
Disney is very much focused on building Disney+, and its strategy of Premier Access means that only those who have subscribed to the channel can get early access to the likes of Cruella, Black Widow and Jungle Cruise. That is quite some focus on driving the 800 pound mouse, but is it actually working? Disney+ worldwide subscribers stalled in May of this year, finishing Q2 with 5.5million subscribers less than analysts had originally predicted, and yet they still managed to pull in a collective $644m revenue for these key titles collectively (see above graph on % of Theatrical from SVoD early releases).
The most aggressive in terms of this new strategy has been HBO Max with Jason Kilar putting all of their 2021 slate on the service, representing a key historical change in the industry. But has it paid off?
In the US, HBO Max subscriptions have grown by 400% in the last 13 months, taking them up to over 12 million subscribers in the US alone. They certainly need some big titles such as Wonder Woman 1984, The Suicide Squad and The Friends Reunion to pull subscribers in, as at $15 a month, they’re nearly 3 times the price of Disney+, and 50% more expensive than Netflix.
It has been announced though that from 2022 onwards, Warner Bros will move to a 30–45-day exclusivity window, and the likes of Disney and Paramount have hinted at following suit (at least for some key titles). Exactly how many theatrical windows are restored (even if they’re much shorter than the traditional three month duration) will determine the fate of the theatrical business.
Early Access (Premium Buy/Rent) is quite clearly here to stay, but is the industry actually ready? Promoting Premiere titles will require a different approach, and ensuring Merchandising efforts are controlled and monitored will be of greater importance than ever. Film-makers and distributors alike will be looking to optimise the prominence of their Placements of these PVoD titles across Connected Devices, and keeping tabs on what their competitors are doing in the same arena will be vital.
For PVoD to boost dwindling Box Office results and to drive VoD subscriptions and views, distributors will need to ensure their titles are getting the best placement across each device consumers are using, from Smart TVs, set top boxes, streaming and gaming devices. That’s going to require a tonne of real-time data to enable each distributor to know which placements generate the most views or subscriptions, and then to use that data to go and negotiate the best placements.
Now if we only had a lab that could scan every device and user interface to gather this data…
Looper Insights can provide content owners with the Visibility and Insights they need to optimise their promotional Placements across a range of digital storefronts, and in turn, increase subscriber numbers and revenues.
To find out more about how Looper Insight’s Visibility and Merchandising platform could help you to track the lifecycle of your titles from Theatrical to PVod and from AVod to SVoD, contact the team today at email@example.com
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