Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Never Ending Saga - Content And Cable Distribution Clash Again

Just as the Time Warner Cable and Hearst broadcast agreement has settled comes word that a next fight is brewing.  This time it is between Time Warner Cable and Meredith Broadcast networks.  "On Wednesday the cable company could lose the CBS and MyNetworkTV affiliates in Kansas City, an NBC station in Nashville, and a CBS outlet in Springfield, Mass. if the companies don’t resolve their contract dispute."  And if it follows the same script, the stations will go dark for a period of time, negative advertising will emerge, websites will arise to send nasty messages to each party, and ultimately an agreement will be reached.  Unfortunately, we must watch all the nasty stuff first before either party will get to the conclusion; it starts to sound like a bad sitcom.

Going To The Movies Not So Worth It

Here's a basic question, are you going to the movies more or less times than you went say last year or 5 years ago.  Does the movie experience or interest in a title push you to go out and would you be willing to go back to see the same film again and again?  It seems that the cost of going to the movies, coupled with much shorter distribution windows and better home viewing experiences has hurt attendance.  "Attendance at the movies last year was the lowest since 1995, and per-person attendance fell to a 25-year low — in particular among younger consumers who frequent the cinema most often, a new report shows."  3D movies have grown, but the cost to watch and the experience in general underwhelms.  Imax screens help, but there are few around to make them convenient to the masses.  And the price to watch and the cost of refreshments make the total cost a bigger drain on the pocket books.

On the other hand, films released early in the year are accessible through on demand or online in less than a year.  With vastly improved HD TV sets and high resolution iPads, the cost is much less and the enjoyment more.  For a family of 4, a night out at the movies with popcorn is more than $60; the cost to watch on VOD with a microwave popcorn bowl, under $10.  It is that growing chasm between the two choices in a depressed economy that  strikes at the nerve of the movie industry.  When going to the movies becomes a more special experience, we go less and expect much more in return.

"Back in 2002, the average moviegoer went to the theater eight times a year; last year, it was fewer than six. In particular, younger viewers are going to movies less often. Attendance per person for consumers ages 12 to 24 is down 40 percent since 2002."  Blockbusters try to help, but the rising costs limit how many we choose to watch.  This trend is not limited to movie theaters.  Look at professional sports and see how few seats are being sold.  Yankee stadium as an example has rows and rows of seats empty; the New York Jets face similar issues trying to sell out its stadium.  As costs rise, less people can afford to go.  And once they begin to switch their viewing behavior, it becomes more difficult to win them back to your venue.