Screening Room Study: Interest Is High, But Price Is a Problem

Screening Room Study: Interest is High,
Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Consumers are interested in paying to watch theatrical releases in their home, but there is a hard cap on how much money they are willing to shell out to check out new releases from their couch, according to a new study by MarketCast.

The report from the tracking and research service represents the first public study on the popular appeal of Screening Room, the new start-up that wants to offer movies in the home the same day they debut on big screens. The study, released Wednesday at CinemaCon, did not mention Screening Room by name.

Screening Room is the brainchild of Sean Parker (pictured above) and Prem Akkaraju. It wants to offer movies for rental for $50, plans to share profits with theater owners and studios and has attracted the support of filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Peter Jackson, but studios and filmmakers such as Todd Phillips have blasted the proposal.


Kevin Tsujihara Warner Bros

Warner Bros. CEO: We Won’t Let Screening Room, Other ‘Third Parties’ Control Distribution

One in four consumers said they would “definitely pay to use” that kind of a service, but some balked at the proposed $50 price tag. On average, interested consumers said they would spend a maximum of $35 to rent a new movie at home.

“Sticker shock is playing a big role,” study author and MarketCast VP Chris Rethore said.

Rethore said the most revealing aspect of the study was its finding that interest in Screening Room was highest among avid moviegoers and older parents. He also warned that using the service would not necessarily lead to more overall revenues for the movie business.

“Interest in a new premium VOD service was concentrated among those who are the most active in the category,” he noted.

“These consumers — especially parents — are more aware of the fully loaded costs of moviegoing and have additional incentives to want early access to some films at home. But these consumers are also hugely important to the economics of the current theatrical model, and most see this service as displacing existing moviegoing behavior – not expanding their paid consumption of entertainment content overall.”

There were other drawbacks beyond sticker shock. One in three respondents said they would “definitely not” pay to use the service, both because of the cost and the fact that Screening Room requires customers to pay $150 to use a box that comes with anti-piracy technology. Nearly eight in 10 consumers didn’t like the idea of needing to have another set-top box style piece of equipment in their home — and more than one-third say that even if it were free, they would not want to have another set-top device in their home.

Rethore noted that the study indicated that younger parents tend to under-estimate the costs of going to the movies. The study showed that seven in 10 moviegoers estimate their average trip to the multiplex at $40 or below (inclusive of tickets, concessions, transportation/parking and/or babysitting), and as a result, fail to embrace the value of a $50 service.

The study was conducted in late March, and MarketCast surveyed 1,200 Americans between 18 and 64 to get its results.

Half of consumers “strongly agree” that they like the experience of going to the movie theater, and that the new service will not be able to replace that. “This finding held whether or not the film in question was a big budget action-genre title (only 21% would choose to watch through a premium VOD service) or a less spectacle-driven arthouse film (20%),” MarketCast added.

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  1. Jim says:

    They better do some research….sounds like they have grossly overestimated the market for this pricey product.

  2. Jacob bennion says:

    I have spent about 16,000 dollars to build a theater in my basement. I hate the movie experience (and I can’t be alone in those feelings) I simply wait a few extra months and see it for the first time in the quiet peace of my sanctuary. People are inconsiderate jerks. So please charge me 200 bucks for the box and 100 bucks for the movie. I still think it’s a bargain. To me it’s priceless!

    • Jim says:

      You’re not the average person. Besides, if you’re willing to wait a few months to see a movie, then why not just buy the Blu Ray or 4K disc which is much cheaper than $50 and you then own the movie plus a digital copy to watch whenever you want….or just get it on On-Demand for $5. Paying $50 per movie plus a $150 set box seems pretty stupid if you’re obviously willing to wait until movies are on home release to see them.

  3. Eric Froberg says:

    Movie tickets: $12 each. Popcorn, soda and candy: Another $20-40. Yet nobody is willing to pay $50 to watch a movie at home? To me this sounds like the perfect way to watch a new movie. No lines, no crying babies, no ignorant people talking or playing with their cell phones, nobody constantly crawling over you on the way to their third popcorn or fifth trip to the bathroom. Add to the fact that you could pause the movie for bathroom breaks and I’m sold. Have some friends over, have them chip in, buy or make some REAL food and just sit and enjoy the movie. I’d definitely be in to watch anything that I’d be willing to shell out to see at the theatre.

    • jedi77 says:

      I agree, but you have to consider singles, couples without kids, and adults with kids who want to watch a grown up film. For them $50 will be a lot more than the trip to the cinema would cost, so in that respect, it’s simply too pricey.

  4. Chad Bolling says:

    I’m all for this service but this will bring about a new level of cam and telesync bootlegging

  5. The Truth says:

    The desired price point could be reached if the Screening Room business model didn’t include sharing revenues with theater owners for providing no service to the customer. Why should viewers have to pay for two movie theater tickets included in the Screening Room package when obviously they prefer to watch at home? The data demonstrates the audience wants in-home first-run viewing at $35. Why not give the market what it wants? Why should motion picture consumers be obligated to pay a premium to prop up an outmoded business model they reject?

    It’s no surprise that “interest in a new premium VOD service was most concentrated in among those who are the most active in the category.” But the conclusion drawn from this data — that revenues will not be significantly increased by the home delivery option — fails to recognize that the opportunity for real growth is in the home-delivery model, not in theaters, which are pathetically touting the potential of better concession menu choices and text-friendly theaters as growth drivers. Better, more affordable food and unrestricted texting are already available at home, as is an intoxicant-friendly environment.

    Once the audience thoroughly understands the value proposition of the Screening Room model (minus the theatrical extortion fees) versus the actual cost and inconvenience of the theatrical model, revenues will steadily climb.

    But the data indicates that beyond the unfairly inflated price point, the set-top box is the chief barrier to adoption. So what would it take to reduce the size of the device to something like a Chromecast or build it into large flat screen TVs? Make that happen and the marketplace will inevitably demand the more convenient, user-friendly mode of viewing.

    As Ellie Goulding put it so breathlessly: “What are you waiting for?”

    • Rex says:

      Why not give the market what it wants? Because the market doesn’t really want this. Only about 25% apparently. So a few “avid” moviegoers — who obviously don’t mind the theatre model — and parents who lost the freedom to go to the movies when they decided to have kids support this, with reservations, but one wonders what the other 3 out of 4 respondents said. There are nothing but strikes against this service: too expensive, set-top box, NOT really piracy-proof when anyone can point an HD camera at their screen and have brand new movie on the torrents in no time (sure it ain’t TRUE HD, but do you really think most of today’s streaming/torrent millennial thieves really give a shit about top quality so much as seeing the movie while its new and trendy?). The only option to get first-run movies into the home is the same way we get VOD now: via the Internet and all the potential piracy that entails. And to deliver a film at a level of quality that would justify the inflated price, the film files would have to be AT LEAST Blu-Ray quality, between 25 and 50 GIGABYTES! And how many times will viewers be able to do that before the ISP’s start coming up with convenient new caps?

      You know, sometimes it’s just better to leave well enough alone. Of the total number of people who go to the movies, a MAJORITY of them clearly actually enjoy the “night out” experience despite the occasional distractions (which are not a constant to every single individual every time they see a show, despite everyone having experienced them) and many don’t even care to see the movie on opening night when they can go a week later and only have to share the theatre with a mere handful of people. Frustrated parents and supposed movie junkies clamouring for Screening Room will just have to deal with the fact it will probably never come to fruition, at least not in anything resembling this current state.

      • jedi77 says:

        Well said.
        Your points make good sense. The GB barrier is a no-go, way too much downloading, and it will be cammed and torrented in no time.

      • Cranston says:

        Well said. Perhaps “The Truth” should change his moniker to “Don’t understand”. LMAO

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