I prefer to watch movies in the theater even though I certainly watch more movies at home as compared to few years ago. The advancements in computing and internet technologies have played a major role in increasing my viewership of movies in a home environment. First of all, the internet speeds have become much faster. Second, new businesses such as Netflix have completely transformed the home entertainment culture in terms of choices and flexibility.
There are both advantages and disadvantage of watching movies in a home environment as well as in a theater. One of the advantages of watching movies in a home environment is flexibility, and this is, particularly, important for people with busy lives such as college students and the working professionals. Someone with a Netflix or Amazon Prime membership can watch movie anytime of the day. The economics of watching movies in a home environment is also more favorable than watching movies in a theater. The monthly cost of Netflix and Amazon Prime is usually less than the average ticket price at a movie theater. Moreover, one has a huge selection of movies and documentaries in addition to the TV shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime despite cost savings. Watching movies in a home environment also offers time savings. For example, watching movies at home means one doesn’t have to drive to a theater. One of the disadvantages of watching movie in a home environment is lack of access to the latest movies which are first shown in theaters before their licensing to online streaming services or release on DVDs. Another disadvantage is inferior viewing experience because home theater system cannot compete with the huge screen size or superior audio technology employed in the theaters.
As far as watching movies in a theater is concerned, it is more an enjoyable experience not only because the screen is bigger and the audio is superior but also because going to a theater is an enjoyable social activity on its own. It often becomes the excuse for the friends to get together or a couple to enjoy each other’s company in a social environment. One of the obvious disadvantages of watching movies in a theater is poor economics. The average movie ticket prices continue to get more expensive, thanks to new viewing formats such as 3D. Another disadvantage of watching movies in a theater is that it is not a feasible option on a regular basis. One can afford to watch movies at home almost every day but theater visits are usually reserved for weekends or holidays due to greater time requirement.
Going to theater may become obsolete in the future and the threat is real. No one could have predicted the demise of video rental sector yet it has happened because Netflix’ model was superior in many ways. Thus, the technological advancements may also render theater sector obsolete, especially, if the viewing experience in a home environment become vastly superior as compared to current technologies. One of the greatest threats is, arguably, posed by virtual reality (VR). Similarly, new technologies that enable the customers to watch movies in a holographic format in a home environment may also hurt the value proposal of the theaters. The economics of watching movies in a theater is vastly poor when compared to Netflix and Amazon Prime yet people go because the overall viewing experience in a theater environment is worth the extra cost. But if technologies vastly improve the viewing experience in a home environment, the theaters will lose the last advantage they probably still possess until they come up with a technology that is even superior to virtual reality and hologram.
It is hard to imagine how the theaters can offer better economics to the customers than the online streaming services such as the Netflix and Amazon Prime. Thus, they will have to rely on two things to maintain their appeal. The first is the continuation of favorable business practices such as delayed release or licensing of new releases. The second is the continuous investments in new technologies so that the theaters continue to maintain the quality edge over the home entertainment systems. It is clear the technology companies may emerge as valuable partners, both as a provider of new technologies and funds. The virtual reality revolution is being led by Silicon Valley giants such as Facebook which owns Oculus Rift. Thus, it would pay for theater companies to partner with technology companies. These initiatives may even reduce the risk of technology companies entering the theater industry and becoming direct competitors.