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PVOD Is Not (Yet) The Future Of Movies

Updated: Sep 30, 2020

Not very long ago, some predicted that PVOD aka Paid Video on Demand might be the new way we all watch movies.

For the uninitiated, PVOD is something like Mulan or The King of Staten Island or Antebellum, films that would have opened in theaters but due to the pandemic were initially made available to stream. For a price.

These prices varied and, in the case of Mulan, still cost $29.99 even if you had Disney+. But considering that streaming services are content behemoths nowadays, it’s understandable if people felt this would be a financial windfall for movie studios operating in the new normal.

But so far that does not seem to be the case.

According to this article, studios are taking a massive hit as the movies they have been releasing during the pandemic are not bringing in the kind of cash that would convince them to maintain this trend once theaters are again a viable option. That doesn’t mean, though, that PVOD will go the way of fidget spinners. Instead, we are looking at a new era for films, just one that will likely go along two parallel paths.

As we discussed in previous articles, it is not a binary decision between PVOD or theater. Instead studios are going to need to be far more strategic in deciding which films should open in theaters and which ones will be a safer bet when released directly onto streaming.

And while there may be assumptions that it’s easy to figure out what goes where (blockbusters to the theater and smaller, riskier fare to streaming), AI could go a long way in helping to determine what will reap the most success in either venue.

The data behind how viewers are engaging with current content, both paid and unpaid, is a window into what will work better at home and at the theater. But this deluge of data needs to be sifted through and tested at a massive scale. Making millions of connections between content, viewers and pricing is the most effective way to know where movies should premiere and how much they’re worth to the audience.

This process will no doubt take some time to convince the decision makers and to get it right. But with AI, they are in a much better position to deliver what audiences want in the way they want it delivered.

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