On Thursday March 9th, the audiovisual community met at NBCUniversal’s stunning meeting space – the Skyline – for the first of BASE/DEGI’s exclusive 2023 Insights Sessions. The packed session, hosted by the Official Charts Company’s Commercial Director Becca Monahan and Fancensus’ VP Insights David Sidebottom, spoke to a new report that explores the significant fragmentation and changes to windowing trends in the UK market post pandemic. An overview of this report was discussed in the sessions in a Q&A organised exclusively for BASE members.
Martin Talbot, Chief Executive at the Official Charts Company said: “We are delighted to be working with Fancensus on this unique research designed to demystify film windowing strategies. The film sector is undergoing rapid change, and as consumption shifts from theatrical to transactional to access, the issue of windowing is key to every film company’s operations today – and we cherish our role in helping provide the data and insight to help throw light on the issue. We hope our report, Movie Windowing In 2022: A Review Of UK Trends, is just the beginning of this process.”
BASE’s Head of Insights, Yasmin Nevard, who introduced the session says: “It was wonderful to see the vibrancy and excitement in the room; windowing trends are the hot topic that everyone wants (and needs) to understand. The industry has changed vastly in recent years, from new windowing strategies to new formats and channels such as AVOD and FAST. With all this change, it is only natural that we now have gaps in our understanding of the overall picture and where transactional fits in to everything. Fortunately, we have the data available to be able to look back, reflect, and comprehend this new landscape.”
The collaboration between Fancensus and Official Charts Company draws on a range of proprietary and third-party data sources to help paint the picture around the current movie windows landscape in the UK. The study analyses the top 100 best-selling EST titles in the UK in 2022 to identify typical and extreme movie windows across the key formats, from theatrical, PVoD, EST, TVoD and SVoD/Pay-TV.
David Sidebottom, VP Insights at Fancensus, said: “It is no underestimation to say that these last three years have been a whirlwind; change in the movie industry has been unprecedented. Consumer mindsets and expectations regarding how and when they can access new release movies have shifted, as studio strategies and wider structural changes pivot to a new post covid paradigm. Three years ago, nearly all the top movies had a theatrical release. You typically waited four months post theatrical to watch most major movies legally at home, whilst PVoD’s possibilities feel some way of becoming mainstream.
With a key focus of the project in focus looking at the theatrical to SVoD premiere window, the biggest change since 2019 has been the fragmentation of the windowing. Pre-covid, most titles had a window of at least 8 months. Fast forward to 2022 and the popularity of this window length has waned, with huge diversity in window length. Average theatrical to SVoD windows have shortened considerably with the average theatrical to SVoD now 2-3 months shorter than pre-pandemic.
The Majority of titles in the Top 100 ESTs from 2022 had a familiar release strategy i.e. a theatrical release, followed by an (albeit slightly shorter than previously) EST release, then two weeks to transactional VoD and physical release. A movie’s SVoD release, in most cases, is at least an additional 3 months after this, often longer. However, on average, this theatrical to SVoD window is now two to three months shorter than it was pre-pandemic.
Over 40% of the top 100 ESTs in 2022 were also released on PVoD/PEST, these titles typically took longer to reach an SVoD platform. So while most movies take a broadly familiar release journey, a significant proportion of titles don’t fall into this category.
The study points to a mixed influence of SVoD releases strategy on EST sales. Generally speaking, titles with stronger EST sales had a longer theatrical to SVoD window (i.e. at least 7 months), with the length of the window having a mixed impact on EST sales when a title is first premiered on SVoD.”
Becca Monahan Commercial Director at OCC said: “The Official Charts Company has been the UK home entertainment aggregator for nearly 30 years. We’re now in a transition phase as we pivot to focus on digital transactional data and are investing heavily in our online analytics tool and underlying database. We have some imminent data enhancements coming later this year. One of our updates is our new online portal which will house theatrical box office value data, box office release dates and SVOD availability data delivered by Fancensus. If studios sign up for the extra data, they can analyse titles to understand the theatrical release date, lifetime box office, the first transactional release date, sales across all models, and the impact on sales when titles drops onto SVOD.”
BASE were incredibly excited that such a pivotal and important topic launched the first of their 2023 Insight Sessions. Liz Bales, Chief Executive at BASE added, “Our role at BASE is to provide the most up to date insight and analysis for our members, to help fill gaps in market knowledge, to support future planning, and promote an environment for category growth. We have so many sessions planned for the rest of 2023, from consumer behaviour insights to content protection, to international digital penetration, all of which support our aim of answering the important questions of the category, and building a full landscape of screen entertainment understanding.”
BASE members can purchase the report at an exclusive members rate.