This report provides comprehensive and current information and analysis of the theaters vs streaming market including theaters vs streaming market size, anticipated market forecast, relevant market segmentation, and industry trends for the theaters vs streaming market in the US.

Current streaming vs theaters market landscape

The movie theater industry still hasn’t recovered from the pandemic – just 54% of people have been to a movie theater in the past six months, and only half of those people have been more than twice in that time. Take into account that in 2019, 68% had seen a theatrical movie in the past six months and it shines a light on one area of theaters’ struggles. While 60% of moviegoers intend to attend more often in the coming six months, theaters are still going to have to work hard to get back to pre-pandemic revenue.

Market share and key industry trends

  • Theater Occasionists: At 43% of moviegoers this is the largest segment. They’re most interested in the traditional moviegoing experience and need a reason to be drawn to the movies (such as a specific actor or franchise).
  • Streaming Enthusiasts: 30% of movie attendees are much more inclined toward streaming new movies at home over going out to the theater to see them. However, they tend toward being Gen Zers, which means there’s time to change their minds.
  • Cinema Fans: These are the most eager fans of movie theaters; however, at 26% of the current moviegoing population they’re the smallest segment. On the plus side, they overindex in favorable moviegoing demographics (especially in being Millennials and parents) and serve as a good test audience for theaters experimenting with the theater experience.

Future market trends in theaters vs streaming

Interestingly, inflation doesn’t seem to be having the same effect on limiting moviegoing as it is on other industries – the movie industry is famously hardy in tight economic times. What is hurting moviegoing, in part, is the snapback of other out-of-home options closed off during the lockdown phase of the pandemic. There is also the threat of streaming. Though streaming movies, in particular, aren’t really a threat to the moviegoing experience, the comfort and value offered by the streaming experience in general makes it an appealing alternative to moviegoing. The biggest strengths that movies have going for them is the experience itself, and if theaters can improve upon that with more comfortable seating, more unique concessions and superior sound and picture quality, they will hold a definitive edge of movie streaming.

.Read on to discover more about the movie theaters vs streaming consumer market, read our US Families and Technology Market Report 2022, or take a look at our other Leisure Time research reports.

Quickly understand streaming vs movie theaters

  • Which consumer segments are the most and least keen on moviegoing.
  • The circumstances in which consumers prefer movie theaters to home streaming.
  • What concession stands can offer to make the moviegoing experience more unique.
  • Other events that can draw consumers to the theater.
  • What features moviegoers are willing to pay more for.

Covered in this theaters vs streaming services report

Brands include: Netflix, Hulu, Paramount+, AMC, Cinemark, Regal, MGM.

Expert analysis from a specialist in streaming services vs movie theaters

This report, written by Mike Gallinari, a leading analyst in the Travel and Leisure sector, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Movie theaters struggled during lockdown, and their rebound hasn’t been as strong as the industry would like in the wake of vaccine availability. Streaming remains an attractive source of entertainment among a population accustomed to being at home. Consumers want their out-of-home entertainment options to deliver on an elevated experience at a good value, and movie theaters are going to have to step up in order to speed their recovery.
Mike Gallinari, Travel and Leisure Analyst
Mike Gallinari
Senior Travel & Leisure Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • This Report looks at the following areas
        • Definition
          • Market context
          • Executive Summary

              • Top takeaways
                • Market overview
                  • Figure 1: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of movie theaters, at current prices, 2017-27
                  • Figure 2: Category outlook for movie theaters, 2022-27
                • Challenges
                  • Theatergoing remains down
                    • Figure 3: Movie theater visitation and frequency, 2022
                  • Movie theaters can improve in their value and offerings
                    • Figure 4: Preference for movie theaters vs streaming, 2022
                  • Opportunities
                    • Make concessions more unique to enhance the moviegoing experience
                      • Figure 5: Desired movie theater concessions, 2022
                    • Bring non-movie events to the big screen
                      • Figure 6: Special event interest, by generation, 2022
                    • Experiment with upcharge options to attracted interested moviegoers
                      • Figure 7: Attitudes toward theater upcharges – Nets, by generation, 2022
                    • Key consumer segments
                      • Figure 8: Moviegoing segments, 2022
                  • Movie Theater Market Size and Forecast

                    • Movie theaters struggle to regain pandemic losses
                      • Figure 9: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of movie theaters, at current prices, 2017-27
                      • Figure 10: Total US sales and forecast of movie theaters, at current prices, 2017-27
                  • Streaming Video Market Size and Forecast

                    • Streaming revenues projected to be strong
                      • Figure 11: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of streaming video, 2017-27
                      • Figure 12: Total US sales and forecast of streaming video, at current prices, 2017-27
                  • Market Factors

                    • Inflation is a constant worry for consumers
                      • Figure 13: Consumer Price Index change from previous period, 2007-22
                    • Shifting consumer concerns can benefit movie theaters
                      • Figure 14: Concerns, 2022
                    • Household budgets are wont to place streaming over cinema
                      • Figure 15: Changes consumers would make to household budgets due to inflation, 2022
                      • Figure 16: Average annual household spending on movie theaters vs streaming, 2017-22
                    • Americans don’t generally seek to be first to see movies
                      • Figure 17: New release viewing preferences, 2020-22
                      • Figure 18: New/recent release streaming, 2020-22
                    • Relatively stable ticket prices can attract inflation-weary consumers
                      • Figure 19: Average movie theater ticket price, 2011-21
                  • Key Players

                    • Overview
                      • Figure 20: Theater attended in the last 12 months, 2022
                    • AMC Theatres
                      • Figure 21: “I Own APE” NFT announcement tweet, 2022
                    • Cinemark Theatres
                      • Figure 22: Movie theater chain revenues and screens, 2019-21
                    • Regal Cinemas
                      • Netflix
                      • Competitive Strategies and Market Opportunities

                        • MGM acquisition gives Amazon even more power
                          • Cinemark stakes identity on 2000 Mules at its own risk
                            • Independent theaters experiment with VR as a draw
                              • Movie magic meets meme magic
                                • Movies come home sooner as studios develop their platforms
                                • Moviegoing and Streaming – Fast Facts

                                  • What’s the outlook for attendance?
                                    • Who’s going to movies?
                                      • What’s better? Theaters or streaming?
                                        • What’s popular at the concession stand?
                                          • Why do people make an outing out of a movie?
                                            • Are there other reasons to go to a theater?
                                              • What are theaters’ upcharge opportunities?
                                                • Does tech matter in theaters?
                                                  • What (or who) fills the seats?
                                                    • Does streaming provide a viable alternative?
                                                    • Movie Theater Visitation and Intent

                                                      • Theater attendance is still on the road to recovery
                                                        • Figure 23: Movie theater visitation and frequency, 2022
                                                      • Income is a big determinant for moviegoing frequency
                                                        • Figure 24: Frequency of moviegoing, by key demographics, 2022
                                                      • Consumers intend to go to the theater more often
                                                        • Figure 25: Moviegoing intent, 2022
                                                      • Parents are a key moviegoing demo, but others are hesitant
                                                        • Figure 26: Moviegoing intent, by key demographics, 2022
                                                    • Moviegoer Segments

                                                          • Figure 27: Moviegoer segments, 2022
                                                        • Moviegoer segments
                                                          • Theater Occasionists (43%)
                                                            • Figure 28: Theater Occasionist segment demographics, 2022
                                                          • Streaming Enthusiasts (30%)
                                                            • Figure 29: Streaming Enthusiast segment demographics, 2022
                                                          • Cinema Fans (26%)
                                                            • Figure 30: Cinema Fan segment demographics, 2022
                                                        • Movie Theaters vs Streaming

                                                          • The theater experience is hard to beat
                                                            • Figure 31: Preference for movie theaters vs streaming, 2022
                                                          • Delivering on value and escapism increases the chances of success
                                                            • Figure 32: Preference for movie theaters vs streaming, by moviegoer segment, 2022
                                                        • Movie Theater Offerings

                                                          • Concessions can be an avenue for a unique experience
                                                            • Figure 33: Desired movie theater concessions, 2022
                                                          • Occasional and diehard moviegoers have some overlap in demands
                                                            • Figure 34: Desired movie theater concessions, by segment, 2022
                                                          • Variety is necessary to get Gen Z out of the house
                                                            • Figure 35: Desired movie theater concessions, by generation, 2022
                                                          • Black and Hispanic moviegoers are interested in variety
                                                            • Figure 36: Desired movie theater concessions, by race and Hispanic origin, 2022
                                                          • Meals can be a mechanism for savings
                                                            • Figure 37: Desired movie theater concessions, by HHI, 2022
                                                        • Movie Theater Occasions

                                                          • Moviegoers seek comfort in more than just seating
                                                            • Figure 38: Movie theater occasions, 2022
                                                          • Date night is popular among more casual moviegoing segments
                                                            • Figure 39: Movie theater occasions, 2022
                                                        • Special Events

                                                          • Consumers are interested in a change of setting
                                                            • Figure 40: Special event interest, 2022
                                                          • Cinema Fans are most interested in a theater’s possible events
                                                            • Figure 41: Special event interest, by segment, 2022
                                                          • Non-movie events can be a growth area in the future
                                                            • Figure 42: Special event interest, by generation, 2022
                                                          • Events can appeal to consumers of varying incomes
                                                            • Figure 43: Special event interest, by generation, 2022
                                                        • Attitudes toward Theater Upcharges

                                                          • Moviegoers are willing to pay more on their terms
                                                            • Figure 44: Attitudes toward theater upcharges – Nets, 2022
                                                          • Frequent moviegoers see the most value in upcharge opportunities
                                                            • Figure 45: Attitudes toward theater upcharges, by moviegoing frequency – Nets, 2022
                                                          • Generational attitudes can give dynamic pricing longevity
                                                            • Figure 46: Attitudes toward theater upcharges – Nets, by generation, 2022
                                                        • Attitudes toward Movie Viewing Tech

                                                          • Touting tech should be an exercise of function, not form
                                                            • Figure 47: Attitudes movie viewing tech – Nets, 2022
                                                          • Heavy visitors are interested in tech, but not at the expense of going out
                                                            • Figure 48: Attitudes movie viewing tech, by moviegoing frequency – Nets, 2022
                                                          • Wealthy moviegoers aren’t going to replace going to the theater with VR
                                                            • Figure 49: Attitudes movie viewing tech, by HHI – Nets, 2022
                                                        • Film Draws

                                                          • Franchises are a huge draw
                                                            • Figure 50: Film draws – Nets, 2022
                                                          • Millennials respond to the cache a studio brings
                                                            • Figure 51: Film draws, by generation – Nets, 2022
                                                          • Universe movies are an opportunity to use high-income viewers as test audiences
                                                            • Figure 52: Film draws, by HHI – Nets, 2022
                                                        • Attitudes toward Streaming

                                                          • Moviegoers and streamers are different subsets
                                                            • Figure 53: Attitudes toward streaming – Nets, 2022
                                                          • Streaming attitudes align with theater visitation frequency
                                                            • Figure 54: Attitudes toward streaming, by moviegoing frequency – Nets, 2022
                                                          • Even digital natives have troubles with streaming
                                                            • Figure 55: Attitudes toward streaming, by generation – Nets, 2022
                                                        • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                          • Data sources
                                                            • Sales data
                                                              • Forecast
                                                                • Consumer survey data
                                                                  • Abbreviations
                                                                  • Appendix – The Market

                                                                      • Figure 56: Total US sales and forecast of movie theaters, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2017-22
                                                                      • Figure 57: Total US sales and forecast of streaming video, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2017-22
                                                                      • Figure 58: Movie theater chain revenue sources, 2019-21

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