Analyst: Premium VOD impact on theaters will be ‘extremely limited’

Premium VOD is quickly becoming a buzzword. Watching just-released films from the comfort of your living room with the whole family is a novel prospect — one some studios have started exploring (some more aggressively than others) lately. And though the pricetag for an at-home movie night will run around $30, the sticker shock wears off quickly when you consider how much a similar trip to the theater would cost a family before the requisite visit to the concession stand.

Theater owners are understandably frustrated by premium VOD. Despite new MPAA chief Christopher Dodd’s assuaging comments last week, potential hits to the box office take are hard to ignore. However, at least one analyst doesn’t foresee premium VOD having too much effect on the bottom line.

According to Home Media Magazine, Eric Wold, the director of research at Merriman Capital, said “We continue to believe the consumer demand for [Premium VOD] will be extremely limited and have minimal, if any, impact on either theatrical box office or home video revenues.”

Earlier this month, DirecTV announced it would bring select films into homes a mere eight weeks after their theatrical debuts. Theater chain CEOs pushed back, saying they would simply not run those films earmarked for Premium VOD release. Disney previously discussed its interest in shortening the time-frame between initial theatrical release and home release, though recognized a movie’s debut is paramount to its success.

Wold also spoke on the 20% downturn at the box office this quarter, pointing out that the decline in ticket sales is only so steep due to a (so far) relatively lackluster line-up. Otherwise, the dip would be much less.

Premium VODs success has yet to be guaranteed as the program struggles to find widespread acceptance among studios, distributors and theater owners. But if the concept gains traction and early attempts prove successful, movie lovers that have grown to hate the theatre-going experience may soon have an apt alternative straight from the couch.

Would you shell out $30 to watch a movie weeks after its release at home? Let us know why or why not in the comment section.