Cable Operators

Cable Wants Open Windows

6/01/2010 2:01 AM Eastern

The cable industry is hoping
that an industry proposal to
secure on-demand access to Hollywood
movie titles within a month
after their debuts in movie theatres
will become reality this year.

The proposal, from Time Warner
Cable to Hollywood studios — first
reported in The Wall Street Journal
— would give cable operators the
opportunity to off er big-ticket films
from the major studios via VOD 30
days after the film’s premiere on the
big screen.

That would be a major departure
from the nearly five months the average
movie spends in theatres before
it hits home-video shelves and
the additional 15 to 30 days before it
appears on on-demand menus — although
the industry has made significant
strides in the past year to offer
films on VOD concurrent with their
DVD release.

Representatives from Time Warner
Cable could not be reached for
comment at press time.

Operators would charge consumers
$20 to $30 for the early-window movie titles,
well above the traditional $3.99 to
$4.99 suggested retail price for VOD movies.
While studios such as IFC and HDNet
have experimented with releasing independent
films on VOD at the same time
they hit theatres (at $5.99 to $7.99), studios
have been reluctant to try similar experiments
with blockbuster titles for fear of
hurting theater revenue. In 2009, theaters
in the U.S. and Canada drew a record $10
billion in ticket sales, according to the National
Association of Theater Owners.

Representatives from the owners association
could not be reached for comment
at press time.

Offering titles so early in the theatrical
window could generate a huge revenue
boost for the VOD movie category, which
averaged more than $1 billion in 2009.

“It stands to reason that a creative plan
such as a home theater window would
only enhance the allure of MOD,” said
Bob Benya, president and CEO for In Demand.
“We believe it would benefit all parties
and we would strongly support it.”

One theater executive said it was very unlikely
that a 30-day theatrical to VOD window
would ever be implemented, but did say
that he expects some movie window experimentation
to take place later this year.

On the day-and-date front, June will
feature several titles that will premiere
on VOD day-and-date with their DVD release,
including From Paris With Love ($23
million box office), Green Zone ($35 million),
Hot Tub Time Machine ($49 million),
Shutter Island
($127 million), The Book of
Eli
($94 million) and The Wolf Man ($61
million).

September