Friday, January 30, 2009

Content Release Windows

TV and Movie content go through distinct release phases. The release window (as they are colloquially called), is based the revenue that the content derives from each phase. Traditionally, for film, theaters are given the first exclusive window, months after which it is made available via other formats: DVD/home video, followed by PPV/VOD and finally broadcast TV (ad supported). TV content usually has a first run on their programmer network (such as ABC) and then gets distributed via VOD and finally moves onto syndicated channels (such as TBS) as re-runs.

Films will likely always be released in theaters first, as box-office results tend to generate buzz that translates into demand for the film in other distribution channels. However, consumer demands are shifting towards Video on Demand. Most consumers have fancy home theatres and prefer watching entertainment when they want it, in the comfort of their homes or when on the road. This trend means that Video-on-demand is clearly where content distribution is headed.

Although cable has been providing VOD content for some time now, the Internet is increasingly becoming the way to distribute this content (both TV and film). Most shows are available for viewing the day after airing on web sites such as, etc.  Movies are finding distribution via streaming services on Amazon, Apple iTunes and Netflix (whose recent earnings figures blew everyones expectations and seems to be largely based on their streaming service.

This shift in consumer behavior is causing distributors to not only experiment with smaller release windows, some have even gone so far as to flip the window head over heels. Warner Bros. is putting most movies onto video-on-demand at the same time they appear on DVDs. Paramount Pictures released the latest movie in its "Jackass" franchise, "Jackass 2.5," onto the Internet before any other distribution channel. Viacom just launched a join venture called Epix, offering up newly released movies such as  with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,  interestingly Epix is launching five months early to online subscribers first.

Are the days of theatre doomed? I don’t think so, see my article earlier on what theatres & hollywood are doing to fight back. What are your thoughts?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hollywood and 3D

When I was at Pixar, we started the trend towards Computer Graphics generated movies via the world's first 3D-CG animated movie 'Toy Story'. Now, 3D-CG is the lingua franca for all animated movies (save for a few like Coraline which is stop-mo)

This time, Jeffery Katzenberg wants to start a new trend in 3D  - 'real' 3D via 3D glasses

To quote from the article in Hollywood Reporter:

150 million 3D glasses are being given away in the US so TV viewers can watch a 90-second commercial for the new 3D animated feature Monsters Vs. Aliens during the Super Bowl game Feb. 1.
The cost of the stunt is somewhere in the "tens of millions of dollars" said DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg.

In fact, last year when I attended IBC , Katzenberg gave his keynote by beaming in through a crystal-clear live 3D transmission from Los Angeles (yes, the fish in the pond behind him looked as if they could swim into the room). Katzenberg thinks that 3D glasses will be the next fashion statement - with glasses converting from sun glasses to '3D' glasses as you enter the theatre. The technology has come to point where nobody in the audience hurled. They applauded. So perhaps he is on to something.
Pixar/Disney is also releasing a 3D movie this summer called UP, as is Jim Cameron with Avatar.

Hollywood is definitely watching and waiting. With recent movie goers prefering to stay home and stream movies into their home theatre systems (as witnessed by Netflix's recent earnings), will this technology prove to be a lure to get audiences back in the theatres (the highest money raking operation for hollywood)? Will TV manufacturers incorporate technology for 3D viewing within the home theatre?
Of course the high level question is: will audiences want to watch 3D movies? Wait and see...