Are subscription viewing services taking charge from traditional cinema visits?

By Ishveer Sanghera


We’ve all had the feeling of flicking through guides to be disappointed at the selection of movies available at the cinema and that sentiment is becoming more and more commonplace as cinemas fail to do enough to engage our interests.


In fact, summer takings at the US box office were at their lowest levels for more than two decades, with films for teenagers being the most profitable. August of 2017 had incomes of $625 million, which was almost a 35% decrease compared to the same month in 2016.


The National Association of Theatre Owners in the United States released a statement in which the vice-president, Mr Patrick Concoran, believed that the quality and varieties of films were to blame. In the same way, the role of video streaming services is becoming more and more prevalent with shares for Netflix increasing from $148 to $267 over the past year alone.


Netflix is the biggest streaming service

Netflix is the biggest streaming service

Film data researcher, Stephen Fellows, says that the ease and simplicity of watching on services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, for a fraction of the cost of a cinema ticket, is driving viewers away from cinema screenings and back to their own living rooms. In the same way, he felt that “the idea of going to the cinema seems antiquated to them [young people] and it is possibly a generational shift,” in which younger people are less drawn to the crowds, queues and costs associated with such a visit.


Moreover, one of the biggest debates in the cinema industry currently is how long a film must stay in cinema viewings before it is available on DVD or to download. This “window” tends to be around 16 weeks in the United Kingdom, but although cinemas try to keep films as long as possible, studios are pushing for earlier releases. The impact of this has also meant that people are becoming more patient with films, if waiting a few weeks allows them to keep the film forever.


At the same time, the risk of online streaming services cannot be forgotten. Although potentially illegal, many of the latest blockbuster hits are also released in Ultra-HD on such sites, where young people (the main users of such links) have become dependent on watching much of their entertainment. This, too, has helped in the decline of cinema visits.


And so, if there ever was a choice between Netflix on the sofa or a rainy-day outing to the cinema, entertainment in the comfort of our own homes is becoming more popular.