Monday, May 11, 2015

Film Marketers: 3 Suggestions to Embrace Online Streaming While Still Making the Money

Film marketers always want to place their products on as many screens as possible, hopefully occupying the most profitable ones to an extended period of time. It is projected that revenues generated from video streaming services such Amazon Price, iTunes, Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu will outpace U.S. movie box office by 2017, according to PwC’s latest Entertainment and Media OutlookAs a graduate student majoring in Integrated Marketing Communications at the Medill School in Northwestern University, I have found two articles that best address the issue, focusing the trend of moving film distribution to online streaming and even mobile devices.

In Time Magazine’s article Forget TV – This Is the Best Streaming Serve for Movies, the author Victor Luckerson (@VLuck) compares HBO, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus in great details. The article ranks them in three categories: recent blockbusters, all-time classics and independent films, by assessing quality rather than quantity. HBO has a clear advantage when it comes to showing recent, popular films, because it has several long-term deals with movie studios for the right to show films during a period of around eight months after a film’s theatrical release when it hits premium cable channels but isn’t yet being played on broadcast TV or basic cable. Netflix is the best service available for all time classics, if we use the American Film Institute’s list as a proxy, while Hulu Plus is also a solid option given its licensing deal to host the enter Criterion Collection. The vastness of Netflix’s library gives it an advantage in the independent films category. The service has almost a third of the 30 highest-grossing independent movies of 2013 and 2014! 

In another article, New Popcorn Time iOS App Aims To Let Users Stream Free Movies On Their Phones from International Business Times, the author Jeff Stone (@JeffStone500) raises another interesting discussion on streaming motion pictures on mobiles devices for free. Popcorn Time has earned the nickname “Netflix for pirates” is trying to makes it possible for users illegally to stream movies on their iPhones or iPads. The open source software is available on multiple sites, which have become popular by employing a simple, clean display interface and a wide selection of Hollywood movies. Along with the copyright infringement, users put themselves at risk of detection by uploading files as they watch, thus making the computer IP address visible. The long time unresolved piracy issue of the movie industry probably poses the greatest threats to marketers at any level. 

After reading these two articles and from my graduate studies in the Northwestern Medill IMC program, I have three action items you should consider if you are about to stream your films online: 

  1. Think Streaming – Embrace new digital media platforms, categorize and label your content clearly, and try you best to secure a spot on the front page.  
  2. Be Multi-media – Have a strict plan on timing to ensure each media channel mutually benefits from another. A good example of Universal Pictures will be highlighting all previous Fast and Furious movies on streamlining platforms before Fast and Furious 7 is played in cinemas.
  3. Find Allies – Rather than staring at monitoring reports and bringing lawsuits repetitively, it is wiser to collaborate with others and figure out some legislative or technological solutions in the long run.
In a word, the outlook of motion picture distribution has inevitable moved to the digital space. If a marketer wants to succeed in the keen competition, understanding the audience is a must that includes knowing their media consumption habits or patterns as well as realizing their desires for inexpensive, even free contents. Adopting and advancing business strategies regarding on line streaming has become a necessity rather than an option for any film marketer.

About the Author
Fiona Xiaomeng Wu (@fionawu418)

Fiona Wu is a M.S. Candidate in Integrated Marketing Communications at the Medill School in Northwestern University. She has lived and worked in Los Angeles with extensive professional experience in digital advertising (Ignited Inc. USA and WPP AGENDA), Public Relations (Imprenta Comm. and ICON Union), and social media marketing (China Lion Film Distribution) before moving to Chicago. She has earned her B.A in Communication at the Annenberg School in University of Southern California. She has also co-founded Flash Frame Entertainment Group since 2011 to help individual filmmakers to pitch corporate investment and to compete in movie festivals.

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