CTAM in NY: On-Demand Movies To Generate $2 Billion In Sales In 2011

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When it comes to movies on demand, the more that are offered with more marketing support triggers more buys.

That was the main take-away from the "MOD Grows Up" panel Thursday afternoon at CTAM in New York. Serving as a state of the union messenger of sorts for the platform, Aubrey Freeborn, senior vice president, marketing and product management, WW VOD/PPV & EST, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, informed attendees that the VOD movie business will near the $2 billion mark, when final tallies are made for 2011. That would represent growth of some 10% from 2010, when there was just under $1.8 billion in PPV movie revenue.

Freeborn said the industry was gaining from both new titles -- driven by more same day-and-date releases as when DVD become available -- and catalogue theatricals. Relative to the former, she said research indicated that whereas there weren't any day-and-date releases in 2005, that number grew to 117 last year, representing 60% of all releases, and that figure will advance again this year.

By the same token, as cable operators and other providers have expanded their film offerings, providers have recorded significant growth with catalogue titles, registering a 28% increase in 2010 over 2009, and anticipated 21% advance this year from last.

Diana Kerekes, vice president, general manager of On Demand, Comcast, said that the nation's largest distributor has been seeing on-demand gains via the deployment of an array of marketing tactics and by partnering with films through all stages of their life cycle - from when they are in theaters to the catalogue phase. She said Comcast worked with Warner Bros. to gain rights to 30 pieces of exclusive content bridging the time between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight to good effect.

She also discussed a series of touch points with The Harry Potter franchise, including offering the first five of the films for "nine and three-quarters" ($9.75), while the sixth was in HBO's window.

More recently, Comcast racked up a 30% conversion rate from users who previewed 10-minute trailers for Tron and Hanna. After the session, she dubbed that performance "fantastic" and said Comcast would look for similar opportunities with films whose opening minutes "really hook you in."

Thanda Belker, executive vice president, pay television, Sony Pictures Television and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, shared some of the results from the second phase of the cable industry's integrated Movies on Demand campaign, which involves CTAM, In Demand, 12 MSOs and 10 studios. After seeking to build awareness during its rookie iterations in 2010, this year's gambit by Movies On Demand, backed by Salt n Pepa's "Push It," focused on triggering transactions.

Pushing 68 titles during April and May in various media -- notably millions spent by the consortium on TV buys, plus separate studio promotions and MSO touts in cross-channel avails -- Belker cited Rentrak set-top-box data that showed the campaign produced transactional upticks across each of the four identified target groups -- new, light, medium and heavy users -- both during the campaign, and, perhaps more importantly, after the flight's conclusion.

Belker said after the panel that the group had just begun to analyze results from the summer phase of this year's campaign and would use that data to inform whatever creative modifications the group may want/need to make for the upcoming Movies on Demand campaign in November and December, a strong period for VOD movie transactions.

In Demand chief creative officer Stacie Gray concluded the panel by outlining some of the changes the content purveyor has made to the Movies on Demand website. In keeping with the campaign's evolution, the website has been converted from a vehicle initially bent on building awareness to one aiming to help boost sales.

Along those lines, a variety of content materials, including Rotten Tomato reviews and watch lists -- which trigger email lists when films become available or about to end their initial run in the new releases window -- have been added, as have a number of social media ties, including various Facebook apps. These also link to the movie areas on the participating MSOs' websites.

Gray also detailed In Demand's campaign aimed at Pizza Hut customers who buy their pies online, as well as media and social initiatives around the six-week award season spanning the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards. Benefiting from the latter efforts, Cox reported a 4% increase in MOD buys month to month, 48% of which were featured titles.

She said there would be a lot more "break-through" marketing efforts in 2012.