The impact of COVID-19 touches almost every industry and aspect of our lives; from education to healthcare to trying to get a sandwich for lunch. And it's no different for the film industry. This pandemic has changed how the film industry produces and promotes movies. Since social distancing is now the norm, movie theaters and film festivals are no longer a trend, albeit the in-person variety. The new normal is transforming into video-on-demand (VOD) platforms, which is opening up the doors to more accessibility, exposure, and digital prominence. In March alone, during the onset of recognizing COVID as a serious threat, digital entertainment sales rose 48% from the previous year. Services such as Vudu and iTunes are becoming front and center for most generations.

TIME TO SHINE

As traditional theaters and the in-person cinematic experience is ceasing to exist, VOD is emerging as a real player in the digital market. In fact, heavyweight giants such as AMC and Universal Pictures put aside their days of feuding and are in full agreement that will allow studio films to premier in VOD fashion within three weeks of their theatrical debuts.

Universal has found continued financial success with its strategy to bypass theaters altogether, now that everyone is staying home for their entertainment fix. Business is booming for the VOD industry, as some five million people are renting the most popular films, generating over $100 million in revenue. 

Sales are continuing an onward and upward trend, with movie lovers having to watch their favorite films at home during the pandemic’s all-time high. AMC was on the verge of declaring bankruptcy, however with the Universal agreement, VOD interest, and the company executives cleaning up their balance sheet, AMC has surged again.

Here are innovative ways to navigate the VOD marketplace and keep your audience interest peaked alongside your competition:

TEAM UP WITH MARKETING GURUS

Let’s face it. Those in the know are the ones you need to turn to during the VOD rise in prominence. Hire a marketing team who can take your messaging and marketplace status from just okay to sensational. 

Once you’ve established a course of action to implement the overall VOD strategy, collaborate with a professional marketing team who will enhance your website design and content, and also elicit interaction with stellar communication and style. One of the largest factors in failed VOD sales is lack of proper marketing tactics. Utilizing a holistic approach that encompasses email marketing, social media, paid media and web development can be highly effective when properly strategized. The numbers speak volumes for the need of securing expert marketing tactics: $596 million total in sales, theatrical films rose 57% in electronic sell-through (EST) and 67% on VOD during the entire month of March.

INFLUENCERS ON SOCIAL MEDIA  

Now this is where the action is in today’s digital landscape. Because every person is on a remote work schedule during the quarantine, an influential person who gains an immense following on social media can be a boon to your success. Host a livestream with notable guests or run a giveaway with an influencer to expertly and candidly reach your film’s audience through their extensive network base.

Social media platforms--Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and even Linkedin--need to be utilized in order to engage your target audience and keep the light shining on your release. With every post on digital platforms, home entertainment sales get boosted even further. An influencer is key to this process. If they love what you do and thoroughly express their adoration for your film, your VOD sales will follow the trend.

GET CREATIVE

The burden for promoters and VOD representatives to discover new ways to lure in an audience can be challenging. Creativity is key and grassroots efforts have proven to be highly engaging for film releases especially. With the loss of our beloved film festivals and awards, there has been a slew of creative campaigns to continue to engage with the festival goer crowd. Online passes to events are now being offered without the in-person experience necessary to view new indie films. Not only is this an excellent opportunity for more independent and niche film festivals to break through, it’s a chance for your film to be more widely seen and possibly win a laurel or two. 

Anytime you can use all that b-roll should be considered a win. Audiences love some behind-the-scenes, never before seen footage and bloopers action. Creatively strategizing a unique and relatable content campaign builds momentum as well as a loyal fan base.

IN A NUTSHELL

The impact of COVID-19 has reshaped the landscape for the film industry, and possibly for the long term. VOD is the most welcomed format for film and TV creators to capitalize on targeting an audience who is hungry for entertainment to enjoy in the comfort of their own homes.

Being at the forefront of this trend will surely elevate your status in the marketplace and continue to provide indie and smaller budget films a chance to outperform expectations. Theater blockbusters are taking a backseat to VOD, and that trend just might stick around even after the pandemic.

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