As one of the industries most devastated by the pandemic, cinemas are expected to see ad revenues grow significantly and box office takings are expected to rebound (though not nearly to 2019 levels). But will people flock to the theater to see new movies this year? Recent data from Hub Entertainment suggests not, with only a little more than one-third (36%) of US consumers saying they will mostly watch new movies in theaters in the next year.
Instead of heading back into the movie theater, consumers appear to prefer the pandemic habit of streaming new movies at home. At the start of the pandemic, one-fifth (19%) of consumers said they had paid to stream a movie that had skipped theaters. Since then, HBO Max began streaming new releases for a limited time at the same time they were released in cinemas and, in turn, claiming the largest share of new subscribers of all SVOD services.
As of July 2021, a full third (33%) of TV viewers surveyed say they have paid to stream a new release at home, and 38% say they will mostly stream movies at home in the next year. About one-quarter (26%) say they will attend movies in person and stream them equally.
Video-on-Demand and Pay-Per-View Use Increases
More consumers are utilizing their pay-TV video-on-demand (VOD) and pay-per-view (PPV) services than before the pandemic. While less than half (46%) said they’d used VOD services in February 2020, by June 2021, 65% said they had used the service at least once a week. Similarly, those TV viewers who say they have rented or purchased a movie or show from PPV doubled between June 2020 (18%) and June 2021 (39%).
Added to that, while the time spent streaming and watching TV jumped last year, so did the use of Smart TVs. Some 20% of current Smart TV owners say they purchased their TV during the pandemic. Furthermore, a similar portion (21%) say they purchased their Smart TV after April 2021, even as vaccines became widely available in the US.
Viewers Show a Preference for Ad-Supported Streaming Options
With more consumers subscribing to multiple streaming services, it appears they’re more open to watching ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) services. In fact, the number of people watching AVODs has increased by 70% over the last year. Other research [download page] from Hub Entertainment Research shows consumers are willing to watch some ads in order to stream the content they want.
The survey separated participants into two groups, each with the task of choosing between three hypothetical streaming services. The first group was asked to choose between a paid, ad-free subscription, a free-with-ads service and a pay less, but with limited-ads subscription, while the other group chose between an ad-free subscription, a free-with-ads subscription and a two-tiered, ad and ad-free service.
Nearly half (48%) of the first group chose to watch content with ads, with 19% choosing the limited ad, limited fee option. The remaining third preferred the paid, ad-free service. Similarly, a plurality of respondents in the second group chose either the ad-supported free service (36%) or the tiered service (36%), while 28% chose the paid subscription without ads.
Additionally, 4 in 10 (39% of) HBO Max subscribers say they are open to switching to the newly offered cheaper, ad-supported tier while 37% of non-subscribers said they would consider joining the service with the less-expensive tier option.
About the Data: Findings are based on a June survey of 3,000 US consumers aged 17-74 who watch at least one hour of television per week.