As moviegoers continue to wait for theaters to reopen, I’ve been thinking about something that streaming doesn’t do as well as movie theaters.
Scratch that. I’m being too kind. Movie and TV originals on streaming promotion is convoluted, largely absent and/or confusing.
Let’s take new wide release movies. If you want to watch a new movie that is advertised chances are better than good you’ll find it at many different movie theaters near where you live. Whether or not we like the 20 minutes of trailers before the new movie plays, it’s a captive promotional vehicle that succeeds in catching our interest in upcoming titles. The more times we see these trailers, the more anticipation builds (or wanes if the trailer sucks).
I could argue that non-wide releases are very similar to what happens to older movies. Those you missed in the theater that enter the complicated licensing morass world of streaming.
Where does the movie end up after its theatrical run? You can pay (too much) in the VOD market buying the streaming or physical media. But what if you don’t want to do that? What if you just want to view it on the streaming channels you’re paying for already without paying an additional rental fee?
HBO, a premium subscription channel, gets a lot of new movies first, but, again, only certain licensed movies. Before HBO, you might catch the movie on an airplane or in a hotel room playing on the “still in theaters” or “just left theaters” movie rotation. After that, it’s the premium channels maybe. After that, maybe Netflix or Amazon Prime or Hulu or ____, see, it’s confusing.
We would like to see the movie on a streaming channel we’re already paying for, so how can this be done? I don’t want to go into Sherlock Holmes mode looking for where a movie will stream and when.
The new movie coming soon promotion model just works better in movie theaters than it does at home. Go see it at the movie theater and you actually, really have a good chance of seeing it. Once it leaves the movie theater, you can maybe still catch it on VOD or buy the blu-ray, but after that … it’s anybody’s guess when and where it will appear on streaming.
Maybe the studios want it this way so that you have to buy the physical media and/or digital copy? The problem is who wants to buy something that may have zero rewatchability? Yes, you can pay the $3.99-$6.99 rental fee and see what you think. If you love it, then you can pay another $10-20 to buy it.
Maybe the rentals should discount the purchase price? That might make paying $3.99-6.99 more attractive as a rental. I think part of why Redbox took off so well is the convenience (big red boxes in easy to locate areas) and inexpensive rental fees. $1-2 is the sweet spot for rentals. I’d rent more if the price was $1-2. At $4-7, I’m thinking about just waiting for it to appear on the streaming channels I’m already paying for monthly subscriptions.
How many other movie watchers think like this?
Original Movies and TV Shows on Streaming
Now, let’s look at new original movies on streaming. Amazon Prime originals, Netflix Originals, Hulu Originals, Disney+, HBO MAX, Peacock, Apple TV+ and the list goes on. There are too many different places for even someone like me who wants to follow new movies.
I’ll give you a perfect example. Anthology shows. Love them! Some readers know The Twilight Zone (classic) is my favorite. I recently learned Amazon Prime has a new one coming out called Tales from the Loop on April 3 (see: FIRST LOOK: Tales From The Loop (TV Series) – Amazon). Probably wouldn’t have known about this had I not stumbled upon a random article about it from inverse.com: TALES FROM THE LOOP IS AN EMOTIONAL SCI-FI BINGE FOR A HOPELESS TIME.
Why don’t we see advertising for this on Amazon Prime? Why doesn’t the Amazon Prime interface show me what’s coming soon in their “Originals” area? Instead, all we see is what they already have. Take a look at the screenshot at the top of this post. Nothing about what’s coming soon. April 3 is this week away and a new anthology TV series is coming out and there is nothing promoting it on their own channel!
This doesn’t happen with new wide release movies. We get trailers, articles, advance discussion and then the movie is out and we can go see it from local theaters. In the streaming world, even when we’re subscribed to channels, we too often don’t have this organized promotion.
Netflix is better about promoting their original content. They do have an area on the side of the interface entitled “coming soon” and you can see what’s coming and when. Kudos to them for being one of the few that actively promotes their new, original shows. They also make trailers for some of their new movies. Just recently, we were able to make FIRST LOOK for two Netflix Original movies coming in April 2020. Yay! This is promising. I wish everybody making new movies and TV shows would do this.
Help us out here. Those of us with movie and TV blogs. Make it easier to know when you have something original and new coming out. Throw us a bigger bone so we can get excited and write about it and spread the awareness to others.
Maybe they already are and I’m just not digging around in the right search keywords and subsections of streaming websites. Ask yourself, though, if someone who follows this information, who wants to write about this is having difficulty how are you going to get the attention of someone who just enjoys watching?
Until streaming finds a better way to organize and unite promoting their original projects — and yes, they could get better about this someday — movie theaters have little to worry about with moviegoers. We’ll go to the theater where we know when we can see it. Yeah, we’ll pay more than we should for the concessions, but won’t have to wait for the pricier rental in 60-90 days or buy something that we may not even have liked watching the first time to collect digital or real dust.
This is the big reason movie theaters need not worry about current day streaming. It’s possible streaming improves and organizes their marketing and promotional efforts. Until then, however, if you want to see what’s new, you go to the theaters or wait for the physical media and/or VOD rental. Beyond that, it’s anybody’s guess when and where it will come out.
How do you track movies you’d like to see showing up on streaming channels? Do you use services like JustWatch to track them down? Do you wait them out for VOD, premium and then hope they show up on Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, etc (see: Why Some Movies Are Impossible To Find Online)? What is your strategy for tracking down where to watch them?