A new study from MarketCast shows that the consumer appetite to watch first-run movies at home day-and-date when a film drops in theaters is there, but a third of those same consumers said they did not want to pay for the service. The study, which was said to be commissioned by no one, queried 1,200 entertainment consumers ages 18-64 on how moviegoing and home entertainment decision-making might be impacted by the availability of “a new premium Video-on-Demand (VOD) service for streaming first-run movies to the home for $50 per movie via a new set-top box costing $150.” Aka the Screening Room, which has been a controversial topic in the industry except among those filmmakers who have a financial interest.
Parents liked the idea more than non-parents, but eight out of 10 consumers responded negatively to adding another piece of hardware.
The findings are complex. “This issue is not cut and dry, it’s actually fairly complicated,” said MarketCast VP and study co-author Chris Rethore in revealing its findings. “Interest in a new premium VOD service was concentrated among those who are the most active in the category. These consumers — especially parents — are more aware of the fully loaded costs of moviegoing and have additional incentives to want early access to some films at home. But these consumers are also hugely important to the economics of the current theatrical model, and most see this service as displacing existing moviegoing behavior, not expanding their paid consumption of entertainment content overall.”
Specifically, the study found that one in four consumers say they would “definitely pay to use” a service that allowed them to watch first-run movies at home on the same date as their release in movie theaters. But one in three would “definitely not” pay to use the service, citing resistance to the cost and the requirement for added hardware in the home.
“There has been feedback and studios and filmmakers but not from consumers, and we wanted to find out what they had to say,” said Rethore.
Interest in such a service was concentrated among the highest-avidity moviegoer segments and among parents of younger children. There was little to suggest that the service was additive to overall demand for first-run movies.
Here are the pertinent findings:
–Half of consumers “strongly agree” that they like the experience of going to the movie theater and that the new service would not be able to replace that.
–This finding held whether or not the film in question was a big-budget action-genre title (only 21% would choose to watch through a premium VOD service) or a less spectacle-driven art house film (20%).
–The study looked at interest in paying to see a variety of actual upcoming titles, whether in a theater, at home in the “regular” home entertainment window, or day-and-date with the theatrical release for $50 using the new premium VOD service.
–One-quarter of consumers who expressed interest in paying to see each movie in the study (either in a theater or by renting/buying in the traditional home entertainment window) migrated to the $50 day-and-date premium VOD service when that choice was introduced — with the vast majority of demand siphoning from the theatrical audience.
–The overall pie, however, did not expand, with overall interest for each movie the same or lower upon introduction of the new VOD choice at $50.
–Interest in the new $50 premium VOD service is strongest (at 53% “definite” interest) among consumers who perceive the cost of their average trip to the movies to exceed $50 — but fewer than one in four consumers peg their moviegoing at such a high price.
–Seven in 10 moviegoers estimate their average trip to the multiplex at $40 or below (inclusive of tickets, concessions, transportation/parking, and/or babysitting), and as a result, fail to embrace the value of a $50 service.
–On average, interested consumers indicate that they would only spend a maximum of $35 per title to see a new movie at home via this service.
–More than 40% of parents of kids younger than 12 express “definite interest in paying to use” the new service, compared to only 15% of non-parents, in part because they estimate their total spend on a single visit to the theater at a much higher level ($49 per visit vs. $28 for non-parents).
–Half of parents “strongly agree” that this new service would be a great way to entertain their kids, and 6 in 10 agree that this service would be a great way to stay current on films they might otherwise miss.
–Other groups who over-index for interest in the service include people with bigger TVs, those with higher household income, early adopters and technophiles.
–Nearly 8 in 10 consumers express negativity toward the idea of needing to have another piece of equipment in their home, and even among those consumers interested in the service, more than one-third say that even if it were free, they would not want to have another set-top device in their home.