Apple’s movie streaming plot will make theater chains furious

Eric Abent - Aug 18, 2017
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Apple’s movie streaming plot will make theater chains furious

It isn’t exactly a secret that DVD and Blu-Ray sales are hurting, thanks in large part to streaming services like Netflix. To combat this, movie studios have been discussing paid video on demand strategies with companies like Apple and Comcast. What they’re planning, though, is bound to leave theater chains furious.

According to a new report from Bloomberg, movie studios might move forward on hammering out a paid video on demand deal with Apple and Comcast. One of the deals on the table would see new movies becoming available on video on demand services shortly after they premiere in theaters. This jump to digital could happen as soon as two weeks after movies premiere in theaters, leaving theater chains understandably upset at such a plan.

These movie studios, which Bloomberg says includes Warner Bros and Universal Pictures (the latter being owned by Comcast), have been trying to include theater chains in negotiations, but thus far, an agreement on how to offer paid video on demand content that’s beneficial for both parties hasn’t become apparent yet. Revenue split seems to be at the heart of the issue, but the sticking point is that theater chains want studios to make revenue sharing commitments for as long as 10 years – something the studios don’t seem to be willing to do.

Now the studios are said to be forging ahead with their plan to offer PVOD content, attempting to create deals with Apple and Comcast that could go into effect as soon as next year. These deals could be struck whether theaters like it or not, leaving those chains with little choice but to agree if they want in on the profits. It’s a touchy situation to be sure, and Apple could find itself in the middle of it.

So, what does this mean for consumers? Bloomberg’s source gave some examples of the deals studios and theaters have considered. One could put movies on video on demand services as soon as 17 days after release in theaters, but they’d cost as much as $50 each. Another would make them available digitally later, charging $30 for a digital copy that goes live four to six weeks after premiering in theaters.

Those prices seem steep, especially for digital content, but it’s important to remember that frequently going to the theater is no longer an inexpensive hobby. A family of four could easily spend more than $50 for a night at the movie theater, which may make these paid video on demand options more attractive.

As always, take this with a grain of salt, but it wouldn’t be all that shocking to see movie studios pushing for earlier video on demand availability. We’ll see where this leads, but we could see new services launching for Apple and Comcast in just a few months. In the meantime, head down to the comments section and let us know if you’d pay some of the prices being floated here – if it meant you could watch a movie at home two weeks after it premiered in theaters, would it be worth $50?


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