Movie Theaters Doing Fine Despite Streaming Revolution, Study Commissioned By Exhibition Industry Confirms

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In an era in which streaming services are a bigger part of the experience of movie-watching than ever before, movie theaters and streaming services are often pitted against one another.

But according to a new study, movie theaters aren’t being hurt by the streaming revolution and — in fact — people who go to a lot of movies also watch more streaming content.

A new study by EY’s Quantitative Economics and Statistics group, as reported by Variety, concludes that “the two forms of entertainment consumption are more complementary than cannibalistic.” It finds that respondents who visited a movie theater at least nine times in the last year watch more streaming content than those who only went to the theater once or twice. In addition, nearly half of those who didn’t visit a movie theater in the last year didn’t stream anything, either.

Respondents between the ages of 13 and 17 attended “a mean of 7.3 movies [per year] and consumed 9.2 hours of streaming content [per week],” despite stereotypes about teenagers not wishing to attend movies in the theater.

However, the study bears one huge caveat worth mentioning — it was commissioned by the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO), a lobbying group for the movie theater industry.

In addition, the results seem to show that a lot of people consume a whole lot of content, and a whole lot of people who consume very little — and that those on both sides of the fence don’t seem to feel particularly strongly about where their content comes from.

The total box office in 2018 has reached over $11.1 billion, which has already exceeded 2017’s total, according to Box Office Mojo — even with nearly two weeks remaining in the year.

“The message here is that there’s not a war between streaming and theatrical,” said Phil Contrino, director of media and research at NATO. “People who love content are watching it across platforms and all platforms have place in consumers’ minds.” Contrino also says that while Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services are siphoning off viewers from network and cable television, there’s been no similar effect on movie theater visits.

The study was conducted last month, and interviewed 2,500 respondents. The results of the study may be remarkable to some, but given the large annual box office receipts for the film industry, should not be too surprising.

The battle between movie theater exhibitions and streaming services reaches an ironic crescendo this month, with Alfonso Cuaron’s movie Roma playing in some movie theaters — while it also streams on Netflix at the same time.