Advanced Television

Four studios agree early pay-TV window

April 1, 2011

Four Hollywood studios have agreed to make their films available on pay-television two months after their theatrical release. Warner Brothers, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Studios and 20th Century Fox have agreed to release their films on a “premium video-on-demand” basis with DirecTV. The move sets up a showdown with movie theatre chains.

Subscribers will have to pay about $30 to watch a particular film. With DVD sales in decline, the studios have created the premium VOD “window” to squeeze more money out of each title. The earlier window arrives as US box office saw a 10 per cent decline in theatre goers in 2010.

The National Association of Theatre Owners released a terse statement saying it had “repeatedly, publicly and privately, raised concerns and questions about the wisdom of shortening the theatrical release window to address the studios’ difficulties in the home market. The studios have not managed to maintain a price point in the home market and we expect that they will be unable to do so with early VOD.”

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