Let’s Watch a Movie
By Peter L DeHaan
someone says, “Let’s watch a movie,” what’s the first thing that
comes to mind? Do you immediately think of a group outing to go
watch the latest flick? Perhaps your preferred viewing venue is the
more cozy environment of your living room couch. Could it be that
watching a movie is a solitary experience for you, one that is
enjoyed parked in front of your laptop computer Whatever it
may be, there are a multitude of options for watching a movie – and
a diverse list of business enterprises that support those
variations. Consider the following options for watching a movie:
Theaters: This is not likely where you would start your
list, but, yes, drive-in movie theaters still exist – and there
is resurgence of interest. According to drive-ins.com,
there are 520 drive-ins operating in the
United States today.
Theaters: The traditional theater with a solitary screen is
also waning in popularity and in numbers, but it is not a thing
of the past either. Close to where I live is a one-screen
theater that has been making a go of it – and attendance is
The multiscreen theater is the premier venue for the off-site
(that is, away from home) movie-viewing experience. These
theaters offer multiple titles and varied viewing times. For
major openings, they can show films simultaneously on multiple
screens and with staggered starting times.
Network TV: This
is the least costly option for those willing to wait to watch a
particular movie. With an antenna, viewing is essentially free,
sans the electricity to operate the TV. If you have cable or
satellite, the effective cost goes up, but still there is no
incremental per movie charge.
Some movie channels are included as part of a cable/satellite
subscriber package, whereas others require a monthly
subscription. These are great ways to watch current and classic
movies – and everything in between – providing you are willing
to scrutinize the programming schedule for desired titles.
This is generally available on cable/satellite systems, allowing
for the viewing of movies (limited to what is offered and when
it is showing); there is a charge for each viewing. Essentially
this model combines the scheduling and admission elements of a
theater with the comfort of home viewing.
On-demand is pay-per-view without the schedule. Start a movie
at any time, on any day.
Local Video Rental
Store: Video rental stores function like a library for
movies – except that there is a cost for each rental. Most
stores are fairly limited in their titles and may stock few
Netflix (90,000 titles) led the way with this option, with
Blockbuster (80,000 titles) and others following. This service
allows customers to order a movie online and have it mailed to
their home, often by the next day. Watch the movie and mail it
back – with free mailing. Although advance planning is
required, it is less hassle than driving to a video rental –
twice – and there are many more titles and copies available.
Download Rental /
Streaming Video: This is much like the video-on-demand
option, but it utilizes the Internet for distribution (think
YouTube, with high quality, for movies). Currently Netflix and
Movielink (acquired by Blockbuster) each have 6,000 titles
available for download.
does all this mean? Plenty – and it can apply to any industry or
movie distribution business is highly fragmented with many competing
variations. Each of the options listed has a threatened existence.
Some of them are arguably obsolete, requiring innovation and
determination to remain viable. Many are feeling competitive
pressures that endanger their existence. For those on the leading
edge, technological advances could render them obsolete in an
incredibly short time.
revisit the list again, with these issues in mind:
Theaters: This is an obsolete option. Those that have
survived have adjusted their business model and reinvented
themselves to make it work. Over 500 have done just that.
Theater: This option is one step removed from the drive-in.
Those that have stayed open have figured out how to market
themselves and fit into a desirable, sustainable niche.
The leader among off-site movie viewing, and the conventional
business model, the multiplex is facing increased and intense
pressure from the remaining options on the list (except for
Network TV: This
is the last distribution node to obtain a movie after its
release; therefore, it is typically the last option we
consider. How would you like to be least preferred option and
garnering decreased interest? Enough said.
An option for many, but increasingly viewed as limited in
comparison to the next five options.
You get to see movies closer to their release date then the
preceding options, but the titles are quite limited in selection
and somewhat restricted by schedule.
This solves the scheduling restriction of pay-per-view, but
still suffers from limited titles.
Local Video Rental
Store: Who wants the hassle of going to a video store to
rent a movie, especially without knowing if your title will be
available? Succinctly put, this model is rapidly approaching
obsolesce. This is precisely why Blockbuster ventured into
rental via mail.
Netflix changed how we rent movies, but this model will quickly
fade. Downloading movies will soon make this option passť.
Download Rental /
Streaming Video: This remaining option seemingly has no
immediate threats, but it is a technology-based solution and
technology changes rapidly. As such, a pervasive threat to this
business model could erupt at any moment and with little or no
industries are likewise fragmented. Some businesses are stuck in
the past. These companies, mired in obsolescence, are still in
business because they have done what the drive-ins and single screen
theaters have done: somehow they reinvented themselves, found a
niche, and marketed effectively.
there are organizations that are trapped in their business plan,
traveling down a narrowing road. Perhaps their distinctive
advantage is their staff, but they can’t hire enough qualified
employees. Maybe they have staked their future on an uncertain and
questionable strategy. Others are loaded with technology, but the
next competitive technological innovation could render all that they
have as something that no one wants.
analysis is not unique to movie distribution. It exists in every
business, in every industry, and in every economy. Some will
survive and some won’t. The key
is taking what you have and using it to your advantage,
perhaps in a way that no one else has thought of. It could be your
location, your staff, your technology, your niche, your management
team, your leadership, or something else. If you have none of these
options, then perhaps it’s time to morph into another line of
business, be it within or apart from the industry in which you are
currently a part of. Regardless of your situation, with
determination and innovation there’s always the opportunity to
reinvent your business. The one solution that won’t work is to do
nothing at all.
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