TGIF – Gone With the Big Screen?

What’s your favorite method of getting news, sports or entertainment? There are so many mediums in today’s digital age and longterm norms have been turned upside down. Remember when a phone was a phone? When I moved back to San Francisco from New York in 2002, I didn’t get a landline phone, and thought I was cutting edge. Today, a growing population certainly don’t have landlines, and don’t have cable or even television sets!

The average American adult spends over 12 hours per day consuming media content. A recent study by Deloitte found that we check our phones over 8 Billion times per day. That translates to an average of 46 times per person. Not surprisingly, the younger you are, the more often you check. Americans 18-24 on average check their phones 74 times per day. Chances are they’re not using it as a telephone either. The 18-24 demographic really stands out with media statistics.

Consumer behavior has changed so much over the years. Cable is a great example. It took off in the 1980’s, and my old boss Ted Turner was the pioneer. Before 1980, less than 20% of Americans had cable television. It surged to over 60% by 1990. Pay TV usage expanded over the years with satellite added in and topped out in 2013 with roughly 87%. It’s expected to fall back towards 75% by the end of the decade. 2 Million people cut the cable cord last year. That means they got rid of their cable service and are accessing content directly from the web. Nearly 15% of the country now access content away from the traditional pay, multichannel TV model. Netflix has over 80 Million subscribers, of which half of them watch on a video game console. Over 40% watch from their computer. A small but growing 6% watch from a cell phone.

Attention spans have changed too. Nearly 70% of Americans online watch television while they’re simultaneously on their phone or tablet. Does that sound like someone you know? It’s expected to be over 90% next year. Americans are consuming content like never before. Over 40% of Americans get their news on Facebook. For those of you who still enjoy the morning paper delivered to your home, you’re not alone. Over half of Americans that read the paper get it in print. That also means that nearly half don’t. Just 17% of Americans 18-24 read a newspaper at all.
Do you love going to the movies? Summer is huge for the box-office. Did you know that movie theaters generate nearly 50% of their revenues across the 3-month Summer season? But people don’t go to the movies like they used to. And some argue the art of Hollywood has been lost with quality story telling being replaced with high-priced action films and re-runs. Whatever the case, the traffic trend is undeniable.

In 1946, 57% of Americans went to the movies at least once per week. It was at the theater where people socialized and got news updates, particularly during WWII. They also saw cutting edge cartoons and other shorts. It was a destination. It was a way of life. The advancement of televisions in the home reversed the movie traffic for good. Last year, 71% of Americans saw a movie in a theater at least once. Nearly half went at least once per month. The age group that frequented theaters the most were age 18-24, averaging 6.5 movies in 2016. This was surprising on one hand, as this is the most tech-savvy segment of our population. But with many in the group in College, or not working, they have a little more free time. Then there’s this stat: 75% of frequent moviegoers own at least 4 different types of technology devices such as smartphones, tablets and video-game systems. The tech savvy still like the cinema experience.

Movie tickets have increased in price over the years. Today, a movie in the Bay Area during primetime costs $12. A ticket to see Gone With the Wind in 1939 cost 23 cents. The original Star Wars cost $2.23 to see it the Summer of 1977. Would you pay $30 to get a blockbuster film on your High Def screen at home the same day it opens at the box-office? You just may get the chance soon. Online video is available on-demand, all the time, giving users significantly more power to choose what they want to watch when they want it.

Americans don’t seem to have the patience anymore to sit back and relax with a box of popcorn in the quiet sanctuary of the movie theater. They can’t sit still in their own living room long enough without picking up their phones. They’ve ditched the big screens for smaller screens. Disruptive business models have shaken the traditional norm to its core. Content providers have had to make drastic changes. Content distributors have been squeezed. Advertisers have to re-think everything. These trends have been disruptive. They’ve been evolutionary. And they most certainly have been investable. We pay close attention.

Have a nice weekend. We’ll be back, dark and early on Monday.


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