The traditional big screen has been compressed onto TV, tablets and smartphones. Streaming of Video on Demand (SVoD) is on the rise, and isn’t slowing. In fact, according to Hootsuite, of 9.52 million internet users in the UAE, 98% of them stream video per month. Its increase in popularity is due to a consumer desire for original content and the flexibility of watching it how they want, when they want and where they want.
Also SVoD appeals heavily to youth, who are the majority population in the Gulf and often stream on multi-devices. The UAE leads the way too in the Arab region with its multi-lingual residents, coupled with high disposable income and internet. Despite the popularity of SVoD, cinema-going remains hugely popular in the UAE, with 82% of the population going at least once a month according to Northwestern University. Why? The experience it delivers.
Most importantly, there will always be opportunities for sweeping cinematography or amazing special effects on a high-quality big screen and sound-system. Small screens just don’t do certain films justice.
The question is, will SVoD kill cinema-going? According to a report published by Deadline, the American film industry is experiencing sluggish growth, as cinema attendance flat-lines. However, research by EY noted that SVoD isn’t such a threat, as those that stream more actually go to the cinema more. Thus the two services are quite complimentary. Whether home-streamers on the sofa will affect theatre numbers or not, it is imperative that cinemas keep attracting viewers through better customer experiences. How? At Al Qana, we are implementing some ideas below:
• Providing different payment methods (such as subscriptions) which keep costs reasonable, but add convenience for users. MoviePass, a US movie ticketing service offers customers for a set fee per month can view the movies of their choice.
• Offering an easier way for people to get to the cinema with a transport provider like Uber, where discount codes can be offered with online purchases.
• Streamlining the food and beverage offering to take less time and reduce stress.
• Providing more frequent screenings of special events (that are always popular). A viewer may not be able to afford a ticket overseas to watch the latest concert, but they could watch it live in cinema for a fraction of the price.
• Rewarding viewers who use good manners or implementing a cinema code of conduct (with strict enforcement of rules).
• Introducing private screening rooms for large groups.
• Offering more screenings based upon client segments, i.e. seniors, singles or date-night, ladies or gents nights, parents with young children, clubs, gamers, etc.
• Giving discounts for future screenings of upcoming films in the cinema.
• Providing a ‘freeium’ model, where the movie is free to watch, but the user pays a premium for extra experiences – i.e. better seating, premium food and beverage.