On-demand Services Mirror Cinema Box-Office Movie Trends

(September 27, 2017) – A survey of UK film goers has shown that users of Video-On-Demand (VOD) services, such as Netflix and Amazon Video, consume the same movie content as they would at the cinema.

Researchers at the University of York conducted the YouGov survey, sampling more than 2,000 adults from across the UK, to gain a better understanding of the usage of VOD platforms.

Results of the survey showed that action, comedy and dramas were the most popular types of film viewed on-demand, while foreign-language, horror, and classic films are the least popular. These viewing habits mirror cinema box-office trends, with action, comedy, and dramas among the biggest successes of the big screen.

Dr Huw Jones, from the University’s Department of Theatre, Film and Television, said: “When on-demand was first introduced, experts predicted that it would encourage more diverse viewing habits and give an outlet for film that was perhaps not as popular on the big screen, such as foreign-language film.

“This doesn’t seem to be the case, and instead we see on-demand may have simply reinforced prevailing movie tastes and interests, rather than challenge them.

“However, there are some exceptions. Documentary feature films tend to be more popular on VOD than might be expected from their box office performance. We found that 14 per cent of the adults surveyed paid to watch a documentary film on-demand over a three month period in 2017, whereas no more than two per cent of the UK adult population watched such films at the cinema over the whole of 2016.”

The survey also showed, that although consumers tend to watch the same content on VOD than they do at the cinema, on-demand has not yet replaced cinema in popularity entirely.

Almost a third (32 per cent) of UK adults surveyed preferred to watch films in the cinema compared to 20% that preferred to use paid VOD services. VOD services surpass the popularity of cinema only when free services and illegal downloads are counted.

Dr Jones said: “Of those that preferred to watch films at the cinema, 70 per cent say this is because they like the cinema experience. The popularity of VOD was mostly down to people wanting to view films at a time and location that suited them. Age was a deciding factor in this, however, with adults preferring cinema and young adults, 18 to 25, preferring VOD.

“It will be interesting to see whether this trend continues; will those that preferred VOD in their youth turn more to cinema as they get older, or will cinema viewers decline as the ‘VOD’ generation ages? Only time will tell.”

The survey also revealed that Netflix was the most popular VOD service at 30 per cent, followed by Amazon Video at 20 per cent. VOD film consumption is more prevalent amongst men, middle-class professionals and university graduates, compared to women, people in working-class professions, and non-university graduates.

To read the full report please visit: https://ondemandproject.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/watching-films-on-demand.pdf

Media Information:

Samantha Martin +44 (0)1904 322029 

or email s.martin@york.ac.uk

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