retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

It is yet another example of how traditional consumption habits are breaking down, and how businesses are adjusting to changed realities.

Variety reports that "Universal and Warner Bros. are having discussions with theater chains about possibly limiting the amount of time between a film’s theatrical release and its debut on home entertainment platforms ... The studios are looking for ways to bolster home entertainment revenue, which is suffering from an 18% decline in DVD sales. The talks are the clearest sign yet that windowing, the industry term for the amount of time a film is in theaters, is going to be hotly debated in the coming months and that a major change in release patterns could take place as early as next year."

The story goes on: "The studios have yet to determine whether or not the films will be just higher-priced rentals or will be available for purchase. Bloomberg reported that the time frame being weighed is two weeks to a month and that the price being considered is between $25 and $50. Insiders say that the price is likely to be on the higher end of that range and that a month delay between a film’s theatrical opening and its home entertainment bow is the most likely scenario. Theater owners would get a cut of the revenue in exchange for agreeing to the new windows."

As someone who goes to more movies than most people - probably 30-40 a year, if I had to guess - I have to admit that I would find such a shift to be refreshing. There are some movies that one wants to see in theaters (Rogue One comes to mind) ASAP, but there are some that can wait a few weeks and that won't be hurt by being seen at home. Offering them for at-home viewing sooner will actually take advantage of all the marketing dollars spent upon initial release ... and if they can figure out a way for theatre owners to dip their beaks, this should be workable for all parties, especially consumers.

But again, most importantly, it reflects something bigger - how traditional consumption habits are breaking down, and how businesses have to adjust to changed realities.

It is an Eye-Opener.
KC's View: