Lead Forensics

As the end credits roll for Cineworld, what next for cinema and advertisers?

14 October 2020

Cineworld’s decision to close all 128 of its UK cinemas has sent the entertainment industry into a tailspin. With Vue, Odeon and smaller independents all struggling too, what’s next for cinema advertising?

The extent of cinema’s struggle over the past few months is reflected in ad sales: Nielsen reporting data shows that in September 2019 the industry raked in £25.2 million – by August 2020, this had plummeted to £885,000.

Ultimately, with Hollywood producers likely to postpone film releases until they’re confident audiences will return – as is the case with the latest Bond instalment – and cinemas unlikely to sell many tickets while the blockbusters stay away, the industry is in the grip of an impasse that has already seen Cineworld and Vue temporarily or partially close. An added by-product of this is that the UK market is now less enticing for producers.

Brits, of course, love going to the movies – this alone should secure the industry’s long-term survival. But the challenges in the short- to mid-term (in other words, until a COVID vaccine goes on market) are considerable – not least because there’s no new content to drive footfall.

A combination of old and lower budget releases may also go some way toward assuaging the worst effects of the pandemic. Yet, fundamentally, we crave the biggest and latest blockbusters: they are what get feet through the door, and therefore make cinema advertising an attractive option for brands.

What now for advertisers?

So, with this high quality, high engagement environment currently taking an enforced backseat, is there an alternative? Or is every Hollywood producer now flocking to Netflix and Prime Video?

One option is to sit on the budget and wait. An understandable move in these uncertain times, of course. Yet, do nothing and the reality is you’re giving your competitors an opportunity to pinch that hard-earned share of voice.

Instead, why not consider VOD, a medium renowned for the creative license it affords advertisers and the engagement it commands from viewers?

With many of the biggest film stars turning to TV, and the likes of Sky, ITV and Channel 4 raising the bar in terms of production values, television and VOD are now a breeding ground for buzz-worthy, cinematic content that gets people talking online and offline.

Another string to the VOD bow is its popularity amongst that near-mythical audience group: 16-34s. In fact, nearly half (46%) of BVOD’s viewership falls into this age range, making it a great vehicle for brands looking to reach younger audiences.

Much like with cinema, there is a value exchange that sits at the heart of BVOD viewing. Granted access to high quality content, the viewer treats ads as part of the experience; they’re regarded as being of a higher quality than, say, those found on YouTube, with broadcasters investing plenty of money in advertising formats designed to maximise view-through rates – the average of which is a huge 92%. Users will also happily share their data in exchange for content they love, consequently improving the targeting capabilities available to advertisers.

The winter of content

With temperatures plummeting, the skies darkening, and fresh lockdown measures expected countrywide, this winter could be the right time for your business to try a new approach. Adapting to these changing conditions is essential.

Cinema will return, and with more power than ever before as fans rekindle the love affair. But until then, this winter offers a great opportunity to engage a nation indoors. With viewing figures exploding and costs falling during the first lockdown earlier this year, we expect a similar landscape to emerge over the coming weeks.

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