Watching movies in the cinema vs premium video on demand

Premium video on demand (PVOD) has grown increasingly over the past few years and there has been a notable increase in films available via PVOD as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst PVOD doesn’t quite seem to offer to bring in the same revenue for movie studios as a traditional movie theatre/cinema release, premium video on demand looks like it will be here to stay, with a number of the big streaming platforms planning PVOD releases all throughout this year and beyond.

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly had a major effect on the film industry. We’ve seen numerous delays with certain movie releases; James Bond’s No Time to Die was pushed back for a release of 30 September 2021, some 18 months after its scheduled release. We’ve seen the major streaming services gain a huge influx of new subscribers, with Netflix gaining 16 million new subscribers at the beginning of the pandemic. 

And finally, we’ve seen the financial strain COVID-19 has not just on the film industry, but also on the world as a whole. We’ve seen how business have adapted with new initiatives including the increase in premium video on demand content. The question is though, will people head back to the cinemas when it is safe to do so, or will be audiences be happy to pay for content via PVOD in the comfort of their own home? 

Experience

Undeniably, one of the biggest draws for visiting the cinema to watch a new release is the whole cinema experience. From struggling to find your seats in the darkness of the cinema, to the cinema worker waiting at the end of movie to brush up any dropped popcorn whilst you sit tentatively waiting to see if there is a post-credit scene, the cinema experience is unrivalled. Plus, there is something to be said about watching the latest blockbuster hit with a bunch of strangers, with Avengers: Endgame springing to mind as one of the best cinema experiences I’ve had in recent years!

In addition to the snacks, trailers and setting of watching a new release at the cinema, watching a film on any screen other than a cinema screen is a completely unique experience! There’s a reason they call it the big-screen, with the largest cinema screen in Britain (BFI IMAX) measuring a whopping 20m high and 26m wide, the viewing experience at the cinema is becoming more and more immersive.

Despite all the glitz and glam of the big-screen, watching a new release in the comfort of your own home certainly has its perks. You can pause the movie quickly if you need a toilet break, you can rustle up some snacks mid-movie to enjoy or you can even watch the movie multiple times if you really enjoy it! 

Not only is there a plethora of home comforts available to you in your own domain, home entertainment has come on leaps and bounds in recent years. Whilst you’d need a pretty big lounge to fit a cinema sized screen in it, there is so much tech available nowadays from soundbars, curved televisions and colour changing lighting that you can really develop your home viewing experience.

Whilst you may have the world at your fingers when it comes to movie snacks and home comforts, for me you cannot beat that feeling of sitting in the cinema, waiting for the film to start, with a huge carton of warm popcorn in one hand and a Tango Ice Blast in the other! 

Cost

Another big factor when it comes to the cinema vs PVOD debate is the cost. Below I’ve outlined the average cost of a cinema ticket here in the UK vs the cost of premium on demand video content. Note, both of these are average costs for new releases, not re-releases or VOD content which is released in conjunction with DVD/Blu ray releases. 

Average cost of 1 standard adult cinema ticket£7.22
Average cost of new PVOD content£19.99

As you can see above, the cost of watching a new release through PVOD is significantly more expensive than a standard cinema ticket, however the table doesn’t tell the full story. Whilst the average cost of a standard cinema ticket may be £7.22, in reality the average price is probably even cheaper, particularly when you consider the number of offers and schemes readily available here in the UK, including Meerkat Movies and off-peak viewings.

Obviously, the £19.99 fee for watching PVOD content isn’t a cost per person, that is the total cost of watching the new release. So, whether it’s just you and your partner streaming PVOD content or it’s 15 people all gathered round in your living room, the £19.99 fee will be the same regardless. If you have a large family then I definitely think the cost of PVOD will appeal versus the cost of multiple cinema tickets, particularly when you factor in snacks and travel costs etc. 

Black Widow Disney+ Premier Access £19.99
Marvel’s Black Widow available on Disney+’s Premier Access from 9th July

Often purchasing a film through PVOD gives you the added benefit of being able to watch the film a number of times within a set window. Whilst this does help to somewhat justify the £19.99 fee, in all honesty it’s more of an added bonus rather than anyone’s main reasoning for opting for PVOD rather than the cinema. Take Raya and the Last Dragon for example; I watched this through Disney+’s Premier Access when it was released in March and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I haven’t watched it since, simply because there has been so much new content release since then.

PVOD’s cost can work out cheaper for a larger group, but on the whole, I think the £19.99 fee is far too expensive. If you play your cards right, you could potentially watch two new releases for the same cost as one piece of new content through PVOD, all whilst getting the experience and atmosphere of visiting the cinema.

The Verdict

Personally, I can’t wait for the cinemas to reopen and will certainly be visiting later this year to watch new releases such as Black Widow, No Time To Die and Space Jam: A New Legacy. I’m pleased to have the option of PVOD available, however compared to the value for money and experience of the cinema, PVOD’s high price tag is just not justifiable.

Will you be visiting the cinemas when they reopen, or are you a fan of PVOD? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

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