Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Content Distribution Windows Keep Shattering

Technological change has affected many industries. The iPod is noted for changing the music industry forever and cable has changed the face of TV syndication and the Movie Industry. The rise of multiple national cable networks means that the market to sell TV shows to multiple markets has gotten smaller; now shows are sold to one network like Comedy Central or TV Land for syndicated viewing. And along with cable on demand and streaming sites like Hulu, TV shows can be watched anytime not just outside prime time.

The movie industry has also seen its distribution windows drastically change. With DVD sales way down, distributors are seeking new revenue with premium pricing for same day as or even before theatrical release. Independent film companies have been pushing this plan. And now it is reaching the big budget film distributors. "Fallout in the exhibition industry continues over Universal Pictures’ controversial move to offer its upcoming Eddie Murphy-Ben Stiller comedy on premium video-on-demand just three weeks after it opens in theaters." Three weeks is hardly a window for theater owners and some are fighting back by not showing this film.

Will consumers pay a premium price to watch a first run film at home? It has not done well in past attempts. In addition consumers are seeing that the distribution windows have gotten much shorter. Where it once took a film more than a year to go from big screen to on demand, it now sometimes takes 3 months. And then shortly after it appears on a premium cable network like HBO or Starz. another 6 months and it lands on basic cable like fx or TNT. Consumers thirst for more seems to fill the pipeline with tons of films all passing through with lightening speed.

It is not just that the DVD has dies, it is that we as consumers are tired of the clutter of ownership. The iPod taught us that we can listen to what we want, when we want, where we want without filling up bookshelves with CDs. So too go the DVDs. How much the consumer will pay for the timeliness of the content is to be determined. Some may pay a premium price to watch in the home; most others will not. Theaters can't fight technological change, but they can make their experience a preferred one. Don't simply shut out the movie, but offer to make the experience a superior one.

1 comment:

  1. Very astute observation. And there are fewer networks not owned by these big conglomerates. Will they eventually get bought up or just go away?