Screen Engine / ASI : SVOD Heavy Hitters Filling Theatrical Void

Screen Engine / ASI : SVOD Heavy Hitters Filling Theatrical Void


Mark Orne | Screen Engine/ASI

July 16, 2020 | In March, as theaters across the country closed in line with regional stay-at-home guidance, at Screen Engine/ASI we quickly pivoted to launch PostVOD, a service that captures audience demos and feedback for movies premiering on premium video-on-demand (PVOD) and early electronic sell-through (EEST). By May, at the start of the traditional summer movie season, but with no theatrical releases in sight due to the extended pandemic and consumers’ streaming use high, we expanded PostVOD to include major, event-level subscription streaming (SVOD) premieres, as well as those on transactional platforms. Starting with Netflix’s April 24 release of Chris Hemsworth vehicle Extraction, PostVOD has been capturing info on audiences for SVOD movies that outside the pandemic may have premiered in theaters, or that have theatrical-size budgets.

As the first summer movie season in industry history when all of the biggest block­busters have opened online and no clear signs of when theaters may reopen in major markets, SVOD original premieres have become increasingly important to both studios looking to get their titles out to consumers and to those consumers hungry for new content.

Additionally, for the SVOD services newly launched in the last year, movies like Hamilton and Greyhound can help to drive subscriptions to these relative newcomers. For established players like Netflix, movies like Extraction and The Old Guard can help retain subscribers with a flow of new, fresh content commensurate with major theatrical releases. Here are some of our insights on how these new titles are performing in the absence of theatrical competition.

Tom Hanks is draw for highly rated ‘Greyhound’

Premiering Friday, July 10 on Apple TV+, initial data for WWII drama Greyhound shows that viewers skew heavily male, especially among males 18-24 (watching with friends) and males 35-44 (watching with adult family members). These viewers tended to be big fans of historical, political, and documentary movies, who despite having lower HH incomes, are big movie buyers/collectors who may buy this movie when it is available to purchase. While many did watch with family members, fewer did so than normal, with more viewers watching with friends or by themselves.  Greyhound’s audience gave it good evaluations, with “excellent” ratings and “definitely” recommend scores well above SVOD norms.  Viewership was driven by word of mouth and the star power of Tom Hanks.  While online and social media ads resonated with this audience, TV ads and the movie art were the top two sources, over-indexing the SVOD norm.

For ‘The Old Guard,’ story bigger draw than star

Netflix’s The Old Guard also premiered last Friday. This fantasy/action-adventure, based on a comic book about immortal warriors, naturally skewed male, younger (strongest among 18-24) and ethnic (Hispanic and African American).  While many saw this film with another family member (2.0 viewers on average, mostly watching with a spouse/partner), a greater number than normal watched alone.  Overall, satisfaction with The Old Guard performed above norm, with more viewers endorsing it as “excellent” and will “definitely” recommend.  Despite having Charlize Theron in the lead role, the main impulse driver to watch was not star power, but instead the movie’s story/plot.  Many viewers mentioned they were “running out of things to watch” (especially young males) and did not decide to watch until the day before or the day of.  This impulsive decision was heavily influenced by seeing the movie art and online trailer, as well as TV ads, while most other sources were not as important for this film.

#Hamilfilm casts wide net driven by strong word of mouth

Viewership for the filmed version of the Broadway musical Hamilton, a very timely holiday release for Disney+ on July 3, continues to be strong through its second weekend.  Viewership was broad, with very even distribution across age and gender, lacking the normal male 25- to 44-year-old skew of most SVOD premieres.  The Hamilton SVOD audience did skew very Caucasian, educated, politically liberal, and toward cord cutters, and they were less likely than average to be big movies fans or use traditional media, like print or radio. #Hamifilm viewers have been more likely to watch it with family members, especially their spouse/partner and other adult family members.  Overall, Hamilton continues to garner high satisfaction scores, with viewers being more likely to endorse it as “excellent” and “definitely” recommend it to friends than any previous SVOD, PVOD or EEST release since PostVOD was launched over 3 months ago, primarily driven by very strong scores from females of all ages. The most influential sources were TV ads and strong word of mouth, especially among females, with many having planned to watch the film for several weeks before it premiered.

Being a smash Broadway hit, which was much talked about, relevant to issues today, and previously limited to those who could afford a high priced ticket, Hamilton on SVOD  became a must see for anyone willing to pay a $6.99 monthly sub, and with minor editing (to be PG-13) was suitable for most families.



Mark Orne is EVP, Cross Platform Group for Screen Engine / ASI,
a full-service entertainment market research agency.
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