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TOPIC: Premium Video on Demand - the window shrinks again

Premium Video on Demand - the window shrinks again 11 Aug 2010 17:48 #34445

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STUDIOS CLOSE TO EXPERIMENTING WITH "PREMIUM VIDEO ON DEMAND"
August 11, 2010 08:21 AM


Hollywood's major studios are reportedly ready to experiment with releasing films via "premium video on demand" as little as 30 to 60 days after they hit theaters. Consumers would pay $24.99 for a movie that has been released theatrically for 60 days and $50 for one that's been in theaters for 30 days. Sources tell Reuters that one studio may do a trial run as early as this fall.

The topic of release windows is a sensitive one. With underwhelming DVD/Blu-ray sales, studios are scrambling to find new ways to bring in revenue. Meanwhile, the exhibition industry remains healthy. 2010's domestic take is outpacing 2009's at the same point in the year, and 2009 ended up posting a record-setting $10.6 billion haul.
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Re:Premium Video on Demand - the window shrinks again 13 Aug 2010 12:18 #34447

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So that would be $24.99 to stream a new release. Sounds like it would be better to go to the theatre at that price and enjoy the night out. I like staying at home an entertaining friends but we don't normally watch movies we cook and hang out in the hot tub at home.
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Re: Premium Video on Demand - the window shrinks again 02 Apr 2011 05:10 #35626

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WELL ITS HERE......

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118034714

WB, Sony, U and Fox cue premium VOD
'Unknown,' 'Just Go with It' expected to be offered for $30 next month

By Marc Graser

After talking to his pretend kids Kiki (Bailee Madison) and Bart (Griffin Gluck) Danny (Adam Sandler) tells them to start laughing and hug him as Palmer walks in, in Columbia Pictures' comedy JUST GO WITH IT.

"Unknown" and "Just Go With it" are among the first studio pics set to roll out as $30 early VOD offerings.
Hollywood has firmed up its plans to roll out premium VOD next month, though theater owners quickly protested the strategy.

Warner Bros., Sony, Universal and 20th Century Fox are the first studios that have agreed to launch Home Premiere as the official brand under which the industry will offer up movies to rent for $30 two months after their theatrical bows for a viewing period of two to three days, depending on the distributor.

DirecTV will exclusively launch Home Premiere nationally to its nearly 20 million customers, while cablers including Comcast will introduce the service in certain cities for an undisclosed period of time some time around the end of this month.

As first reported on Variety.com, the first films expected to launch include Warner Bros.' actioner "Unknown" and Sony's Adam Sandler comedy "Just Go With It," sources close to the new service say.

The launch plans come months after studios started to float the idea to experiment with higher-priced rentals of pics closer to their theatrical runs as a way to boost their homevid operations with film campaigns still fresh in people's minds.

WB, U and Fox have already succeeded in fending off companies like Netflix and Redbox, forcing them to wait 28 days after a film bows on DVD to offer those titles for rent through their online services and kiosks. Those same studios wouldn't mind lengthening that window even longer and have considered pursuing such talks.

On the premium VOD front, the majors say they're missing out on audiences who aren't making the trip to the megaplex because of the size of their families or the expense of babysitters or of food and other concessions.

But exhibitors worry that allowing auds to watch family fare at home, even at a higher price point, may get them used to staying away from theaters over the long run. A statement released by the National Assn. of Theater Owners Thursday at CinemaCon accused the studios of compromising revenues for the entertainment biz, saying, "These plans fundamentally alter the economic relationship between exhibitors, filmmakers and producers, and the studios taking part in this misguided venture."

Studios contend that offering up films 60 days after their theatrical run won't hurt the box office since most films generate most of their coin during their first three months.

But NATO says studios "risk accelerating the already intense need to maximize revenues on every screen opening weekend and driving out films that need time to develop -- like many of the recent Academy Award-nominated pictures. They risk exacerbating the scourge of movie theft by delivering a pristine, high definition, digital copy to pirates months earlier than they had previously been available."

Paramount is not participating in the Home Premiere program, reportedly due to piracy concerns.

The majors also say they wouldn't release any films via Home Premiere that are still performing strongly at the B.O.

DVDs and Blu-rays typically bow 90 days after a pic's theatrical run, although that's been shrinking for higher-profile titles.

A specific launch date was not revealed for Home Premiere, but sources told Variety that it would occur at the end of April.

DirecTV has recently launched a more aggressive effort to encourage its customers to upgrade their set-top boxes to be able to connect to the Internet as it readies to launch Home Premiere.

Comcast, meanwhile, is eyeing Home Premiere as a way to bolster its pay TV market share through enhancements of its broadband-based Xfinity TV service.

DirecTV was initially targeting a trial launch this summer, during which "we'll try something that's four to six weeks from theatrical release," DirecTV chief Michael White said in February.

Studios have talked DirecTV into compromising to a longer release window since then. One reason: The major theater chains, including Regal Entertainment, have threatened not to screen films should they become available during a six-week window via premium VOD.

The Digital Entertainment Group, which helped Hollywood launch and brand Blu-ray, will assist in building the Home Premiere brand.
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Re: Premium Video on Demand - the window shrinks again 21 Apr 2011 20:45 #35808

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Well it starts today. 60 days is only the beginning......

The Future Is Here

News
DIRECTV Questions $30 VOD Plan; Surprised?
By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (April 21, 2011) -- DIRECTV today is scheduled to launch a VOD service that will charge $29.95 per viewing of movies made available 60 days after their theatrical release.

And the satcaster is already questioning whether it will work.

Derek Chang, a DIRECTV executive vice president, said yesterday that the satcaster may lower the $30 price -- and offer movies sooner than 60 days after their theatrical release if buy rates are low.

“We’re testing a price point and testing a window in the early days of this product, and we’ll see how it takes,” Chang, DIRECTV's's chief of content strategy and development, told Bloomberg News. "Down the road, if the window gets tweaked and changed, I think we all cross that bridge when we get to it.”
DIRECTV is scheduled to launch the 'Premium VOD' service today with the Adam Sandler comedy, Just Go With it, which was released in theaters on Feb. 11.

The 'Premium VOD' concept has been floated for months as studios explore ways to generate new revenue to counter declining sales of DVDs. But the idea is controversial because of its price -- and because movie theater owners say it could hurt their attendance if people know they can watch a movie at home just 60 days after its theatrical release. Normally, studios wait at least three months before offering theatrical films to home video.

However, rather than seek to appease theater owners, Chang's comments will likely heighten concerns that the studios and their TV provider partners are ultimately aiming to bypass the theater.

Chang told Bloomberg that theater owners are overreacting because films rarely perform well in theaters 60 days after their initial release. However, even if that's true, if DIRECTV decides to show films 30-45 days after the initial release, theater owners would have more reason to worry, particularly if DIRECTV lowered the $30 price.


Swanni Sez:
Commentary:
Okay, I said it last week. The studios' initial plan for 'Premium VOD' is just a teaser, purposely designed to generate a low buy rate to diminish concerns that it will hurt movie theater attendance. Seriously, $30 to watch a movie at home? Who is going to do that? No one -- and the studios and DIRECTV know it.

Chang's comments reveal that's there a more realistic plan in place behind the scenes. The studios eventually want to release box office hits on VOD on the same day they are available in the theater. They have calculated that, in the long run, this will generate more revenue than the current distribution model.

But to get to that point, they will have to work the program in slowly, to downplay media coverage of theater owner protests. Over the course of time, it won't seem like a big deal that a new film is released to VOD 30 days after its theatrical release. And then a bit later, it won't seem like a big deal when it's released on the same day of the theatrical debut.

And it won't seem like a big deal when the price of the VOD offering is just a bit higher than the theater price.

Theater owners, you have a right to be concerned. The studios are gunning for you and they are happy to take their time to get you.
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Re: Premium Video on Demand - the window shrinks again 22 Apr 2011 01:38 #35813

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And Comcast Cable now owns Universal and Focus Features. Bet your boots they have plans to be pumping their releases down the cable pipeline fairly soon.

Hang on boys this is going to be a bumpy ride.
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Re: Premium Video on Demand - the window shrinks again 22 Apr 2011 13:48 #35814

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Also ..... Dish network bought Blockbuster video........... not sure if or any this will come into play.
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Re: Premium Video on Demand - the window shrinks again 23 Apr 2011 12:51 #35816

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Theater Owners Should Stop Complaining About VOD
Kenneth Ziffren explains why VOD is better for everyone.

CinemaCon was buzzing with the news that four major studios have entered into an exclusive agreement with DirecTV to launch Home Premiere, which will bring films to the home about eight weeks after their theatrical release. Cable operators and telcos, among others, will soon follow in select markets.

The National Association of Theatre Owners blasted the move. But despite their remonstrations, none of this was surprising to any of the participants. The contours of the key negotiating issues were known last year (see my Nov. 10 column in THR), and all that was missing was a critical mass of studios willing to face the ire of theater owners.

As previously speculated, DirecTV will charge a household $29.99 to view a film in HD and turn over 80 percent of that “box office” to the studio. Statistics compiled by nonpartisan research firms reveal that more than 97 percent of a film’s theatrical gross is earned within the first eight weeks of release; in fact, check the April 1-3 box-office chart, and you’ll find that none of the films earning more than $1 million has lasted 56 days. Thus, the exercise should have only a limited impact on a film’s performance in theaters.

So what are the prospects for Home Premiere, and how might or should it evolve?

Let’s look first from the studio side. Only one major (Paramount) has declared it will not support the effort, at least not now. Its opposition is said to be based on piracy concerns, but a cynic might note that its ultimate parent company’s operating business is exhibiting films in New England, and opposing the effort has the convenient effect of currying the favor of theater circuits.

All of the studio executives with whom I’ve discussed this issue indicate that their support is largely predicated on a belief that there is no good commercial reason for withholding a film from the home for a four-month period. They also take a “no harm, no foul” position vis-a-vis the theaters on one hand and home video mass merchants on the other. So reaching the home with a film after two months makes sense.

Studios believe Home Premiere could work only if there is a continual flow of good product — especially family films or tentpoles — from producers, as opposed to trying to turn the proposition into a one-off or event mentality. The initial launch titles might not be blockbusters, but that’s because they are winter releases. As many as six to eight films a year from each of the major studios, and perhaps four to six from mini-majors, could be offered once things get going (in, say, two years).

None of the studio execs believes Home Premiere is a game-changer or that it will solve the major economic problem facing them today: the decline of the physical home video sell-through business, down substantially the past five years. But even with buy rates predicted at less than 1 percent, and with the necessary service upgrades limited to fewer than 10 million households today, Home Premiere can help if all goes well (more on that below).

Still, the NATO and theater circuit opposition continues unabated.

They rail against shortening the theatrical window, though statistics reveal that, on average, only 3 percent of the audience watches a film after it has been in theaters for eight weeks. Plus, the price for viewing is not likely to attract singles or couples, nor will the plan alter the theatrical experience.

Theater owners solicited the creative community to fight the studios but did not get any significant support. Then they obliquely threatened to charge the studios for trailer exhibition in theaters — as if trailers don’t also benefit them!

Now the biggest attack against the studios is leveled for their being “volume hungry” and having no price discipline. The argument is that studios have always collapsed or decreased pricing in the home video arena to attract more customers, and that eventually that will happen here.

Putting aside antitrust considerations (studios are not permitted to conspire to control pricing), one would think the shift from a high-priced sell-through VHS tape in the ’90s to a less expensive (but higher quality) DVD was a benefit to the industry, not a departure from sound business practices. And what about the fact that the major studios have essentially funded the theater chains’ digital-cinema installation, creating 3D opportunities for both studios and theaters?

The mystery to me is why the theaters are fighting so hard to preserve a full four-month window instead of joining forces. As we’re all aware, advertising and promotion in theaters (whether paid ads or trailers) has the highest CPM around, and a theater can readily set up a link or contract with online and traditional carriers to sell tickets to upcoming Home Premiere films. Why not share in the upside, even if limited, rather than be so intransigent?

Kenneth Ziffren is a senior partner at Ziffren Brittenham and an adjunct professor at UCLA Law School.

www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/column-th...s-should-stop-175661
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