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Survey says: Hollywood could make more money without windows

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Surveys conducted and sponsored by research firm BTIG suggest that movie viewers might actually spend more money on films, if they were available online or on cable video-on-demand services at the same time as they are available in theaters. The post from BTIG’s Richard Greenfield (free registration required to view) details three different surveys conducted over the last few weeks, which asked respondents to forecast their theatrical and home entertainment spending if windows were to collapse.

All of the surveys leveraged Survey Monkey to poll respondents, but the most complete of the three polled the Survey Monkey Audience (SMA) network, racking up 1,124 responses. About 70 percent of respondents from the SMA survey said their spending on entertainment wouldn’t change if priced in the $20-$25 range. But while the majority of users predict no change, the number who say they would spend more outnumber those who predict they would spend less by three to one.

According to Greenfield, that group appeared to be price-sensitive and more likely representative of today’s average consumer that respondents from the other surveys. Those who expected to spend more would be doing so because they saw cost savings from concessions and parking outweighing the difference in price and convenience of watching at home. In addition, some respondents suggested that they were unhappy with the current moviegoing experience.

In aggregate, the survey shows that Hollywood studios would likely make more revenue with the collapse of movie windows. More importantly, those sales would come with better margins since they wouldn’t be sharing with exhibitors. The fear seems to be that putting pressure on the theatrical window could cause some exhibitors to go out of business, which would in turn destroy that distribution channel.

11 Responses to “Survey says: Hollywood could make more money without windows”

  1. Chris Potter

    Would love to see a studio do a real A/B test of this. They could easily partner with a cable provider like Comcast to make a movie available on VOD on the same day the theatrical release and measure total gross sales in the test market compared to a market of similar characteristics with theatrical release only.

    I get @Erik’s point about coop marketing dollars, but a test like this would help studios decide whether it’s worth looking for better marketing and distribution alternatives.

  2. Anonymous Guest

    In 2011, I watched two movies that were in the theater (in other markets) via Comcast’s on demand service. I paid ~$10 for each which is around ticket price for movies here. It was definitely nice to have that option. I wish the concept could be applied to more movies, especially ones that have limited theatrical runs. For example, I think Comcast did the On Demand route for the international version of “Red Cliff”, but by the time it was showing on Comcast, I had already purchased the Blu Rays from Hong Kong and seen the movie twice.

    These on demand experiments could not justify the cost of the service. For me, windows don’t matter as much as simple availability. I don’t live in a market that caters to my tastes in foreign media until the DVD/BR option is available. Even then, I end up nearly always buying the movie from overseas or a grey market importer. I really don’t have many other options except a pirate version.

    I would like to see how marketing dollars are spent throughout the whole window lifestream as well.

  3. The movie going experience hasn’t been updated in donkeys years, if you don’t count 3D which just makes my brain bleed and I avoid like the plague. You could actually improve it loads with today’s technology. Higher frame rates, higher shutter speeds, higher luminosity for a hyper real experience. Add decent scripts like older films rather than dumb stuff that passes now. Then I think I would watch many many more films in the cinema. Why do they lag behind so bad? Its not the technology that makes it impossible, it is bad decisions. They spend far to much time and money fighting technological advances, rather than using them creatively. Its so sad what counts as Hollywood now. They believe people want dumb shit rather than the reality is they put up with it just to go out somewhere.

    As for online, yes, I would, its pretty much the same as watching a DVD but just more convenient. I also don’t think you should have to pay for something twice.

    I suppose its the sad thing that monolithic organizations tend to make poor choices and resort to might and power struggles, rather than adapt, they desperately defend the old ways. Very sad and what a waste. If they spent those resources updating instead they would be onto a winner.

  4. Ben Nash

    I went to go see Chronicle last night at the theater. One of us got really sick from the hand-held camera style cinematography. We left before the end of the movie. Then at home I really wanted to finish this movie. What? no more cuevana? I look for a torrent. Find a russian version of the film. Click click click. I wake up to no internet, Comcast prob saw my torrent use. no movie to watch.

    Can I get some freaking options here? I spent $35 at the theater and I gladly would have bought the movie again when home. I want to pay to finish this film. Give me options Hollywood. Or we’ll go elsewhere. BTW my popcorn is better than yours.

  5. This is a waste of time. The opposition is more from the exhibitors and not the studios. They should do some research before wasteing time on a poll. As stated before, it’s also about focused marketing. Something techies just don’t understand.

  6. Erik Schwartz

    This is a bogus study. Windows are also about shelf life. There’s a new marketing push for theatrical, then another for PPV, then another for DVD, then another for streaming, then another for international, then another for broadcast. So instead of a 2 week push, you end up with 8-10 2 week marketing pushes.

    All of these marketing pushes are primarily paid for by the channel, not the studio. Finally how much international is willing to pay for a film has a lot to do with US box office.

    A surveymonkey quiz is meaningless research.

    • Ryan Lawler

      Sorry, but that sounds terribly inefficient. While it’s nice that the studios get help from distributors when it comes to marketing their films in other windows, it seems to me that a single marketing push at the launch of a film if done right, would be much less costly and ultimately more effective than the same title facing the law of diminishing returns every few months when it was re-marketed for a new distribution channel.

    • You’re talking about the old model again. Today, the public can – and will – decide the fate of your movie or song, and there’s no amount of marketing or control that will change a bad movie into a more profitable one. There’s also the other benefit to be gained from the “new way” of doing things: The old way says you create a movie, market the movie, control the distribution at every step, wait a few months, and then create your next movie. Today, studios could literally produce hundreds of movies simultaneously, send out one tweet when each is ready for rent and/or purchase (through any channel users want), and the world will consume each movie to exactly the level of interest that would have existed before. Either a movie is good, or it isn’t. Either a movie gets recommended by your friends, or it doesn’t. Throw out the old marketing and window schemes, and just let the public market and distribute for you.