EXCLUSIVE: Backers are ready to take a victory lap for their two-year Movies On Demand marketing campaign for cable built around the slogan: “The Video Store Just Moved In.” But the evidence that they’re starting to circulate fails to demonstrate that they attracted lots of new rentals following their TV, print, and online sales pitches, which began last year with a $30M commitment. They point to figures from Rentrak that show cable subs viewed VOD more than 6.4B times in the first 10 months of this year, up 10.3% vs the same period last year. The problem? That figure isn’t just movie rentals — it also includes movies shown for free as well as TV shows. They also note that newcomers to VOD movies — people who hadn’t ordered one in at least three months — paid an average of $7.71 a week this past summer. That’s up 67% from the spring, and it’s “a massive increase since early 2010, when they weren’t spending at all” for VOD movies, says Char Beales, who oversees the Movies on Demand campaign. While she’s probably right, it doesn’t mean much because the group doesn’t tell us how many people began to rent movies. The campaign is supported by Fox, Lionsgate, Sony, Summit, Universal, and Warner Bros, as well as Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Cox.
They launched the Movies On Demand effort as studios saw companies led by Netflix and Redbox renting DVDs for as little as $1 a night — and stopped viewing cable as a threat to disc sales and rentals. This year about 80% of cable VOD movies were available the same day discs hit the stores. Last year cable’s day-and-date figure was 60%, and just four years ago it was 4%. Meanwhile thousands of video stores closed. Rentals at bricks-and-mortar stores dropped 28.1% to $1.25B in the first nine months of this year according to the video industry’s DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group. Even so, Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt said in October that movie VOD transactions at his company fell in 3Q because “some of the movies were weaker than they were a year ago.”