Episode 8: Shrinking release windows

The movie studios are pushing to release movies to cable, on-demand much closer to theatrical release. Starting with the fact that cinemas are not in the movie business and the cinema release is promotion for DVD sales. Plus what is the effect of the aging Television audience on the Networks, along with time-shifting (and skipping commercials)? Appointment Television is dead. The one common theme is changing business models: you can only sell scarcity so what are the implications for production? Are Apps the future of viewing content and providing an experiences around the content? Is the democratization of production going to lead to the end of production as we know it? What can we learn from the outliers? Is branded entertainment the replacement for advertising support?

And finally, do we have to care less about quality and finish, if budgets drop further?

12 thoughts on “Episode 8: Shrinking release windows

  1. As some one who works in the Cinema industry, I have to disagree with you that same date release to Cinema and other formats is obviously going to effect the cinema industry. I wouldn;t disagree that is is probably only going to be small but it would..
    In real terms, I feel the cinema should always have at least a month on the other releases as Cinema as much as it is about the business of hospitality, it is a culture. The place you go to see the movies first and on the biggest screens.

    I think every cinema owners wants to make sure this culture and idea stays the same. The longer terms effects are whats is worrying.

    Otherwise, it is nice to see you following some of my comments on earlier shows about looking into this subject.

    Now I would like to put a new idea in your head regarding what “The Answer” may be.
    Interestingly enough, Newspapers are on a similar path but 5 years ahead in many ways. And so far, a new way forward, business wise, has materialized around hyperlocal content and distribution.
    I have always put forward that producer to consumer, all tho makes the most sense, bypasses the $$ in the hyperlocal business areas.
    For example, in my day running a facility, we saw 50-70% price per item type advert on TV. Ie localised content as prices are very much a hyperlocal concept.
    So far, I have not seen any convincing models that work hyperlocal in with the expected producer to consumer models.
    Agencies that specifically cater to this are not really there yet. Well none that I can easily identify. I feel its to much of a shot gun approach so far and waiting for something to stick.
    A discussion on how this side of the equation may work would be interesting, and any examples of it around the world that seems to be taking shape.


    1. Yes I consider this but am not convinced that Google will own that market too. They have been trying in this area with not to much success. But yes, their technology to do it for the web could be part of the answer.. I am not sure it is compatible with the model.
      These types of deals are very much relationship based. And Google is not a relationship company. They are an automated web portal company mainly.

      So I don;t know about Google.

      I think there needs to be something in the middle at least.


  2. Finally subscribed to your new podcast and listened to the past episodes today. The two of you show great insights into where the industry is headed and provided me with some great ideas to pursue. Thanks for the work so far and looking forward to next week’s show.


  3. I think Pixar’s company model of staffing their production people and and concentrating on story is something live production companies could emulate.

    Now, Pixar functioned for years on investor’s capital developing their process and workflow. New production companies will need to work leaner and with more cohesion with a dedicated team than calling in freelancers.

    I think the show is terrific. It’s entertaining and thought provoking. Keep it up!

  4. Same here. You guys put on a great show. Love the conversations and please feel free to “ramble” on as long as you want — great stuff.

    As for the Release Windows/End of Event TV discussion I’ll add the following:

    1. I haven’t subscribed to cable in over five years and haven’t missed having it. With a Mac Mini hooked up to my 720p hd set, I get decent quality video from YouTubeHD, niche sites like CrunchyRoll.com (I’m a geek like that), iTunes, DVDs, etc. If I ever move back the US I’d have access to Hulu Plus, Netflix streaming and the like. As a big sports fan I subscribe to NFL International and get very nice quality broadcast every gameday.
    Basically, I’m on my own schedule and don’t really give a damn about the network’s schedule UNLESS…

    2. Talent is the key. I make it a point to download the newest episode of Mad Men every Monday from iTunes. It’s still overpriced at $3 for HD per episode or $2 for SD but the show is incredible. Same goes for the new HBO series Boardwalk Empire. I’ll be watching that one within 24 hours of its initial broadcast for certain.
    In fact, everything we watch online has been produced by the big boys with big talent. In five years, I’ve maybe watched one amateur online series (Yacht Rock) during my cable-less existence. The talent sells the product for certain and if they have to build shows around single sponsors or integrate those sponsorships into the programs (done expertly on Mad Men and The Sarah Silvermen Program for example) then so be it…jedi.

    3. My biggest question as a consumer of visual content is why in the heck do we not have a single system (hurry it up Apple!!!) that allows us to subscribe to specific programs or channels ala podcasts on iTunes for a flat fee every month ala carte??? It’s 2010 already!!! Why do cable providers think that it’s a good idea to throw in crappy networks that nobody wants (won’t name any names) when most people only care about a specific number of programs (Instead of “Sports” I’ll take the NBA/NFL, hold the MLB and Golf thank you)?

    You all rock. Thanks for doing the show.

    1. Adam,

      Ah ha, but you cleverly don’t bother to tell us HOW you’re going to be watching “Boardwalk Empire.” For networks that don’t feed the outside-their-wall VOD system, it’s not easy for non-Geeks.

  5. Terence & Philip,

    Love your show. You make it seem effortless to cram so much amazing content into every show. I know it’s not, but you certainly make it seem that way.

    I’ve long said, on my own blog and to anyone who will listen, that the DVR has completely broken the old business model in television. I not only have no idea WHEN a show but I increasingly have no idea WHAT NETWORK it’s on. VOD is helping us to create our own networks and our own schedules.

    Interestingly, the major networks (broadcast and both flavors of cable) are still stuck in the old method of monetizing viewers except now they’ve added repeat runs into the occasion. They are good at slicing and dicing the numbers that Nielsen et al give them, but they are not very good at figuring out how to monetize viral. Adam mentions above that he is definitely going to watch BOARDWALK EMPIRE without a cable box, and there are lots of people who will be doing that. But HBO has no way of tracking or using those numbers.

    Of course, when you’re in the channel acquisition business like HBO, as opposed to the viewer acquisition business, you may not want to find out how many people are watching your content via pirate sites. But if ABC could have monetized every illegal copy of LOST’s finale, they could have shut down their network the next day and still made money.

    It’s not just pirate viewings that can drive up numbers. The number of people who watch portions of “The Jon Stewart Show” (to use an example that you two have used before) without ever going to Comedy Central or their site HAVE TO HAVE some value to Viacom. They just haven’t figured out how to do that yet.

  6. Oh, and one more thing — release windows.

    James Gardiner makes good points. The value of a movie theater release to the studios is mostly as a publicity generator for the real releases. Years ago, when I cut a film for Roger Corman, his exhibitors were in revolt because he would bicycle a single print around three or four theaters in a territory — one week after another. That meant that, even if a film was doing well in one theater, it would get pulled after a week in order to be moved to another one.

    This gave Corman a nice number of bookings, with a decent return. And this, in turn, helped to make his video sales more lucrative. And that’s where he made his money anyway (well, that’s not completely true, but I’ll stop there).

    The exhibitors felt, justifiably so, that they were being used for other purposes and rebelled. Corman, of course, was simply years ahead of the rest of the industry. Exhibitors are being used today, because their core needs are not the same as the distributors and (except in some rare cases) never going to be the same again. Once they realize that they are in a different business than Fox, Universal, Paramount etc then and only then will they be able to move on and start to establish a decent business model.

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