Time between theatrical and home video debut drops dramatically by over four weeks, IHS says

New data bucks industry viewpoint; Box office performance is a key influencer of how quickly a title is moved to home video

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (June 14, 2016) – IHS Inc. (NYSE: IHS), the leading global source of critical information and insight, today announced findings from its latest video intelligence report from the IHS Technology Video Media Intelligence Service.

The average window between a film’s theatrical debut and its release on home video has fallen by over four weeks over the last decade. In 2015, theatrical titles waited 118 days on average before releasing on physical video. This compares to a 149-day window ten years prior, in 2005.

“This is a significant reduction in the period of time that a movie is exclusively available in theatres in the USA,” said Laura Aguilera, Analyst at IHS Technology. “This means movies are arriving on discs 31 days sooner than a decade ago, despite a wider industry assertion that theatrical to home video window has remained largely unchanged.”

No Industry Model for Physical versus Digital Releases

So far, it appears that the industry has been able to put a hold on physical releases to protect a 90-day theatrical window, while the digital release window has shrunk significantly during the same period.

The theatrical to digital download window has shrunk by almost 29 percent in just the last four years. “It took more than a decade for the physical release window to contract 21 percent to where it ended 2015,” Aguilera said.

Of a research sample of 313 titles released in 2015 on digital formats, 25 percent were available for digital purchase day-and-date with their physical street date, while 61 percent were available for digital download an average of 24 days prior to their respective physical video street date and an average of 97 days after opening in cinemas. The remaining 14 percent were available on digital formats the same day as theaters or shortly before opening in theaters.

“While a growing number of films are releasing after ever shorter windows on digital formats, it is clear that no model fits all studios. Both major and independent studios continue to experiment with new release strategies on a title-by-title basis,” Aguilera said.

However, it is risky to change theatrical windowing without a clear idea of where alternative revenues can be generated. The industry will ultimately need to embrace more flexible release strategies to reflect the wide variety of movies being produced, but any potential solutions should not put at risk the theatrical market; worth $10 billion in the US and $38 billion worldwide.

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