May 27 2020
One of the most credible purveyors of research and insightful data to guide business strategies for multiple brands across Media, Broadcasting, Video Streaming, Radio and more, Ormax Media, has released a report looking in depth at an area that has been in sharp focus, first, because of the cruel impact of COVID-19, and now, the apprehension amongst outlet owners that their footfalls might be sucked into the virtual space by video streaming platforms. The space is that of cinema or movie halls, or Theatre.
But, even as they are caught in the throes of zero business and the need to keep their properties in spit-and-polish condition, running their projection and sound systems et al and looking after their employees, theatre owners needn’t worry about any drastically changed mindsets about movie-going in cinemas, or that OTT Platforms will wean movie lovers from theatres to their tiny 6 by 4 inche screens. That, says the report, is more of a media-created mis-conception. But a Gulabo-Sitabo kind of big-ticket movie premiere on an OTT Platform (Amazon Prime Video early June 2020), is a reality that was waiting to happen too, and the lockdown hastened its arrival.
And although the national multiplex exhibitor chains have been understandably vexed and, going by their statements, are in a rather emotional state, it is a fact that there will be no quarters given. There are going to be no free lunches.
One isn’t implying the exhibitors asked for any free lunches, nor does one, going by the Ormax Report findings, believe they will indeed need any. Yes, post-lockdown caution will impact theatre-going by lovers of big-screen movie experiences across SECs and demographics, but the most reassuring thing this report has thrown up is – as many as 82% of those surveyed have missed their movie-viewing-in-theaters experience.
What Ormax Media’s report offers to movie chains and single screen cinema halls, is a ready reckoner of a to-do list to help them prepare for the end of the lockdown – which we hope comes sooner than later without compromising public safety.
In a decisive endorsement of the big-screen experience, a staggering 82% audience said they are missing theatres a lot during the lockdown.
Return to theatres
A dominant section of audience believe that they will go back to the theatres within 2-3 weeks of them re-opening. However, social distancing and sanitization precautions taken by theatres will play a crucial role in their decision to visit.
Media-created perception removed from reality: Theatres still a powerful magnet
Contrary to a perception being built in the trade and the media, high consumption of films on TV and OTT has not reduced the audience attraction for the theatrical experience. 69% audience said they will visit theatres not just for big-scale films but for medium and small films too.
Will definitely pay for tickets, if safety assured
Economic considerations don’t emerge as a major factor in the decision to revisit theatres. Audience would rather have theatres keep the ticket price unchanged and spend money on implementing safety measures, than offer discounting to boost footfalls.
Majority will give F&B consumption the miss
F&B consumption at the theatres is likely to be impacted by about 60% during the period of COVID-19
Exhibitors perceived highly on consumer safety index
The national chains score high on audience trust to effectively implement safety measures. However, chains with limited geographical presence, and single screens, are seen to lack this credibility.
Keep your customers informed about safety measures
Communication of safety measures undertaken by theatres will be a crucial factor to persuade audience to visit theatres when they re-open
As is well known, there has been significant increase in consumption of movies on both, Television and OTT Platforms at home during the lockdown.
Here are three charts with perspective:
*Ormax Media surveyed 1,000 regular theater-goers (15+ yrs.) from Hindi, Tamil & Telugu audiences across 58 cities & towns in India, with demographic proportion as per 2019 Box Office footfalls. The survey was conducted online, in May 2020.
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