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Will people pay to stream the latest film releases at home?

Shaun Austin Head of Media 08/04/2020

Coronavirus weekly tracker: 8th April 2020

While cinemas are closed, Hollywood is relaxing its rules on releasing new films through streaming channels

Along with many other industries, the Covid-19 crisis seems to be accelerating the trend towards mobile and in home convenience.

As well as everything else, the media world has been turned upside down too. The way we are consuming media is changing and the industry has to adapt to keep pace with evolving behaviours.

According to Savanta’s daily coronavirus tracker, the number of people saying they are leaving the house is declining day by day – so how are people entertaining themselves at home?

According to ThinkBox data between 23rd – 29th March there was a 7% point increase on average YoY daily TV set reach; on average people spent 32% more time watching broadcaster television.

With more people staying at home, this is only likely to increase further. ITV also report viewing via the ITV Hub is up 77% year on year for the first 12 weeks of the year.

How are film distributors mitigating the crisis?

But while TV is thriving, spare a thought for the film industry and cinemas now that they’ve all had to close their doors.

Whilst UK cinema attendance had actually been rising in the UK, sadly this will certainly be the end for some independents and smaller chains who may well not bounce back from this crisis.

To combat this lost revenue, movie studios are putting many films out on early release to rent. Along with many other industries, the Covid-19 crisis seems to be accelerating the trend towards mobile and in home convenience.

For instance, The Invisible Man (#2), Bloodshot (#4) and Military Wives (#5) all within the top five films at the box office on the weekend of 15th March are all already available to rent from Amazon Prime, which is normally completely unheard of, meaning audiences will have unprecedented access to view at home.

Understanding changing audience opportunities: are people aware they can stream the latest films at home – and will they pay for it?

In terms of awareness of these films being available to access through streaming sites, there were relatively low levels across each of the premium video on demand (VOD) sites in the UK. More than one third (36%) of the UK population didn’t know that films could be streamed via any of these services.

Sky (26%) and Amazon Prime (22%) have the highest levels of awareness, so it would appear that they are best placed to help movie studios reclaim some of the lost revenues.

Just 1 in 10 are aware these films could be streamed via Google Play (11%) or iTunes (10%), so potentially more promotion is required if they are to leverage this opportunity.

In terms of paying for this service, just under 1 in 5 (18%) people say they would be likely to pay to watch a film if it were available to rent for under £15. This is highest amongst those aged 25-34 yrs old (28%) and those living in London (26%).

Of course, not everyone saying they will rent a film will go on to do so, but even so, with these sorts of numbers, there is a decent opportunity to claw back some profits.

However, just under 2 in 5 (39%) say they definitely wouldn’t make a purchase, with a further 1 in 5 (18%) saying they are quite unlikely to make a purchase. This means more than half of people (57%) are not willing to part with the additional cash and will stick with their existing subscriptions and TV schedule.

It’s also worth noting that in our daily Covid-19 tracker, we’ve recorded the highest proportion of people who say they have a decreased disposable income so it’s to be expected that many people are prioritising the essentials over entertainment.

What happens when the crisis is over?

Whilst this move is unprecedented, it’s not permanent, the studios are making decisions on a film-by-film basis. However the time between the film being released in cinemas and available to stream, is often a sore point for consumers, with some suggesting that having to wait three months for the films to be available on VOD is one of the reasons that consumers turn to piracy.

The Hollywood studios have had to relax the theatrical window in order to recoup revenues, but as soon as they can, the cinemas will open and customers will come flooding back.

For some, nothing can match the cinema experience, and those providing the best cinema experiences will prosper. Consumers who enjoy watching these new films in their own home, should make the most of it; it won’t be long until the three months wait comes back!

To get further information on consumer sentiment and behaviours during the Covid-19 crisis, our coronavirus data tracker is updated on a daily basis.

Get in touch to speak to one of our media experts and find out how Savanta can help you understand the impact of the pandemic on the media industry.

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