As theater fans wait in long lines for their favorite new releases, streaming fans wait even more patiently for those same films to be released on the smaller screen.
This trend has been the dynamic of new movie release, even before cord-cutting was a thing. For over a decade, a wait of over 100 days for new movies has been the standard for viewers who preferred to see a new release in the comfort of their own home. That tradition is now being challenged by streaming film distributors.
Remaking the Video On Demand Policy
Humans are fickle beasts and over time their demand for earlier access to entertainment like new release movies has come with less and less patience.
In 2005, for example, it was about 135 days from the day a film opened in the theater until it came to home viewers. Today, that number sits at about 102 days. With declining revenues, movie companies are looking for better ways to make more money. One way that could happen is to create a premium Video on Demand service.
With premium VOD, viewers might pay $30 to $50 for a new release movie. The length of time that exhibitors are willing to wait to start distribution is the sticking point right now. Numbers like 30 or 45 days after opening night break hugely with tradition, but other studios are pushing for even tighter turnarounds of 10 to 17 days. Some parties are willing to allow flops to go straight to video, but are hesitant to let go of those high box office films, fearing VOD will be a significant income drain.
Shrinking the Home Release Window
Theaters may be able to win as much as a 20 percent share of premium VOD money if they’re willing to let the window for home release shrink below 30 days, but that debate hinges on how long that income stream would last.
Surprisingly, Netflix has come out as the most aggressive element in these new release debates. It has bucked the trend since becoming a content creator and offers original movies in the theater and for free through its streaming service on the same day.
The landscape of home entertainment is about to change dramatically. The only question is whether it also changes brutally in light of consumer demand for faster VOD release schedules.