CODA’s win as this year’s Best Picture at the 94th Academy Awards made history as it was the first movie that premiered on a streaming service to take that prize.  But does that mean that in-person visits to the theatre are dead?  In today’s Insight Flash, we examine trends for theatres versus streaming services, including three-year growth for top chains in the US and UK, the impact of new titles on streaming service subscriptions, and cross-shop for in-person theatres and streaming services.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit movie theatres harder than almost any other industry.  Indoor entertainment spaces were among the last to emerge from restrictions, and many moviegoers in both the US and UK were hesitant to go back even when governments allowed it.  Therefore, it is useful to look at spend growth for these chains on a three-year basis, a feature available as part of our CE-Q data visualization dashboards.  With visitation often volatile based on new feature releases, theatres are currently benefitting not only from consumer pent-up demand, but also from pent-up supply of blockbuster titles.  All three of the top US chains saw double-digit spend growth in December, even on a three-year basis.  Trends since then have been more muted, however, with declining spend growth for AMC in February, flat spend growth for Cinemark, and single-digit growth for Regal.  In the UK, where release schedules often differ, three-year spend growth was actually higher in February for the top three chains than it had been in December, though below October highs.

Top Movie Chain Three-Year Spend Growth

One reason streaming services are pumping money into content is to grow their user base.  The monthly subscription of $8-$15 is less than the price of a single ticket at most theatres, making subscribing even just for a family to watch one film cost effective.  Looking at recent Oscar nominees/winners, HBO and Disney+ have both seen increases in new subscribers either the day of or just after the movie came out.  Netflix, which is more saturated in the US market, hasn’t seen the same success with major releases, but also may feel the need to keep a steady stream of content for retention.

New Subscribers

Can theatres compete with the convenience and cost of sitting home on your couch?  Cross-shop data shows that movie lovers may be willing to spend on consumption in a variety of forms.  In February 2022, AMC patrons were much more likely to be paying for streaming services than the overall population – almost twice as likely to pay for Amazon Video-on-Demand or Hulu, and over a third more likely to be paying for Netflix. 


Note: Cross-shop is among those paying for AMC in February of given year, % also paying for listed streaming service