Most Movie Theaters Now Receive Content Via Satellite, D-Cinema Group Says


EXCLUSIVE: Theaters with more than 62% of domestic movie screens now look to the skies for the movies and other content they offer, up from about 44% at the end of 2014, according to data out today from the industry group that promotes the cost-reducing satellite technology.

This is the first time the Digital Cinema Distribution Coalition, founded in 2013, has been able to provide year-over-year results. It was created by Warner Bros Entertainment, Universal Pictures, Regal, Cinemark and AMC Theatres and absorbs many of the transition and operating costs for theaters that install dishes and receivers.

The numbers show that screens connected to satellite dishes increased nearly 35% to 23,579 at the end of 2015, and the total now is “close to 25,000,” DCDC says. The U.S. had 40,174 screens in 2015, according to the National Association of Theatre Owners.

DCDC’s apparently is making headway with many small and medium-size exhibition chains that doubted it would be worthwhile to make the switch to satellite dishes instead of receiving content on digital hard drives.

“Some don’t have networking capabilities” in their venues or “get married to one way of doing things,” said DCDC chief Randy Blotky. (He won’t say how much exhibition chains or distributors typically save by switching.)

Others also feared that DCDC would have a monopoly over satellite delivery — and ultimately raise prices.

Blotky’s been on a campaign to win their trust. “There’s monopoly power, but then you have to be a bad actor,” he says. “We’re an open book. If they want to audit us, then that would be fine.”

In addition to the growth in screens served, the industry group says that it has installations in more than 2,000 sites, up about 47% from the end of 2014. It has teamed with more than 100 exhibitors, up roughly 200% from what it had a little more than a year ago.

DCDC works with all of the major studios and says it now has 32 content providers, up 140%. Those using the service include BY Experience, Bleecker Street, EuropaCorp, Gathr Films, Group 1200 Media, Pure Flix Entertainment, Shorts International, SpectiCast, Tugg and The Weinstein Company.

The number of films delivered over DCDC’s system increased about 15% to 200 — with 29 in its busiest month. It also transmitted 38 events, including five live ones.

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