If there’s one staple of American life, it’s entertainment. Movies have been around since the 1920s, providing people with an immersive form of escapism and visual storytelling. And while there’s nothing quite as relaxing as physically going to the movie theater to see a film on the big screen, the home theater experience is quickly gaining momentum as the most popular entertainment activity of choice.
Technology has forever altered the entertainment industry and has redefined how people consume multimedia content around the globe. The introduction of commercial high-volume content delivery networks pioneered by the likes of Akamai, Limelight and Windows Azure have paved the way for entertainment content to be easily streamed and downloaded to people’s desktop computers and mobile devices, all within a matter of seconds.
Streaming media has become an integral part of the Internet experience for both consumers and enterprise users. This delivery method employed by Hulu, Netflix, and AppleTV uses virtual real-time files that can be executed without time-consuming downloading. Streaming technologies allow users to view video, audio, or other multimedia presentations without the need to download files to their own computers and since streamed files are not saved locally on a recipient’s computer, they provide built-in copyright protection that studios demand.
Believe it or not, the rise of at-home movie viewing options hasn’t taken a bite out of box office revenues. According to the Motion Pictures Association of America, global box office for all films released in each country around the world reached $32.6 billion in 2011, up 3 percent over 2010’s total, due entirely to the increase in international box office ($22.4 billion). Chinese box office grew by 35 percent in 2011 to become the 2nd largest International market behind Japan, experiencing by far the largest growth in major markets. Overall, international box office in U.S. dollars is up 35 percent over five years ago, driven by growth in various markets, including China and Russia.
Film as a format is being phased out by the entertainment industry. It was announced by the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) at this year’s CinemaCon in Las Vegas, that 20th Century Fox would end 35mm film distribution. At last year’s CinemaCon the CEO of NATO, John Fithian, had predicted that distribution of the celluloid format would formally end by 2013.
It should be noted that the industry’s switch to digital distribution is mostly economical. It costs about $1500 per theater for film and digital distribution is approximately one-tenth of this figure, around $150. If you recall, most theaters elected to move to digital projection after the release of Avatar, James Cameron’s 3-D digitally filmed movie.
In order to tap into the home movie viewing demographic, companies are embracing the new online steaming medium. The popcorn company Pop Secret recently embarked on a new year-long mission to make movie viewing even more social as part of a new marketing campaign. The company just launched a new browser plug-in for Google Chrome called Pop Search that gives people the ability to highlight a word on a page and then the plugin will suggest online movies relevant to that term.
“People are watching more and more movies online, but often have trouble finding out where to watch it,” said Bud Caddell, SVP, Director of Invention at Deutsch LA. “Pop Search is making it easy to find any movie to watch instantly. They are competing tools, but a lot of them don’t have the comprehensive list of where to stream these movies, and don’t have it easily accessible as a browser extension. Pop Search will be the go-to tool for anyone who is looking to find a movie online. We want it to the Google for stream-able, long-form content. Pop Search is just a way for people to find a movie to watch, and remind these viewers to make some popcorn before they press play.“
Regarding online video streaming giant Hulu, in October comScore reported that Hulu saw its viewership number fall sharply in 2012, including a 58 percent drop to 65 million hours viewed in August although it attributed the decline to a “refinement of tag collection mechanisms,” as well as a broader enumeration change. Earlier this year, Hulu Plus said it had more than 2 million paying subscribers, each of whom pays $7.99 a month for the service.