Disney Move May Signal Change in Movie Marketing

Consumers have multiple ways to access the latest movie from their favorite production houses. These days, they may be as likely go to a theater to watch the movie as they may be to watch the production streaming on the Web. At the same time, movie producers are looking for ways to efficiently use the average $30 million marketing budget that accompanies large releases.  Earlier this year, I wrote about strategies that movie marketers would take this year including more promotional partnerships and less use of print, radio and outdoor.

Here’s another strategy – compressing the time table between theater releases and DVD/​video-​on-​demand releases. Disney’s distribution head Bob Chapek said the industry has a “need for exceptions to accommodate a shortened time frame on a case-​by-​case basis.” Alice in Wonderland will have an exclusive theater launch on March 5 but the time to the availability in other formats will be shortened by as much as 4 weeks and is likely to give Disney a longer reach with its initial advertising campaign.

Disney’s move comes as analysts continue to study the competition between the pay-​TV industry and its competitors. As more broadband video becomes available, marketers have wondered if consumers will cancel their pay-​TV service. According to Parks Associates, about 8% of consumers may be considering this kind of change. Typically, consumers considering cancelling their service or moving to another provider are watching about 10 hours on online video and they are also heavy users of DVD rentals. Here’s how these consumers currently watch video in a six month period:  (The numbers represented the movies seen per platform.)

  • Purchased DVD: 6
  • Rental DVD: 18
  • Watched in theater: 4
  • Watched on VOD: 9

According to Method marketing agency, consumers most likely to opt for a broadband Internet connection and perhaps a Netflix subscription than a traditional pay-​TV service are between the ages of 18–24. If these media-​savvy consumers represent the leading edge of the new preferences for watching movies, Disney is clearly correct to begin tweaking its movie rollout strategy.  It will be interesting to see if other major movie producers follow suit in 2010.

[Sources: Windows Update: Disney Eyes Shorter Theatrical Run for ‘Alice’ ; Online Videos Effect, More Nuanced than Cord-​Cutting, Entertainment Marketing Letter, www​.epmcom​.com, February 15, 2010] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.