Video Streaming for Movie Theaters

published on 08 October 2023


Video streaming has become an incredibly popular way for consumers to watch movies and TV shows from anywhere at any time. With the rise of services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video, video streaming now accounts for over half of total TV viewing time in many markets. This rapid shift towards on-demand streaming presents both challenges and opportunities for movie theaters. While streaming services have disrupted traditional release windows and distribution models, theaters also have a chance to benefit from this trend by implementing their own streaming platforms.

Offering a white-label streaming service can help theaters generate incremental revenue, expand their audience reach, and provide more flexibility with film distribution. This article will explore the benefits of streaming for theaters, key considerations when evaluating streaming service options, real-world examples of theater chains that have successfully launched streaming, and why Filmgrail's end-to-end platform makes it easy for any cinema to quickly get a streaming service up and running. Implementing streaming can significantly enhance the moviegoer experience, showcase a theater's brand and programming, and ultimately drive higher revenue and loyalty.

Current Video Streaming Landscape

Over the past decade, on-demand video streaming has radically changed how consumers watch movies and TV shows. Once a niche activity, streaming is now the dominant way most people enjoy video content. Major services like Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, and Disney+ have tens of millions of subscribers each and account for over 70% of total TV viewing time in the US. Let's look at some key stats on the top streaming platforms and examine how this trend has impacted theaters.

Major Streaming Services

  • Netflix - The streaming pioneer now has over 220 million subscribers globally. They spend billions on original content and have firmly supplanted many traditional TV networks.

  • Hulu - A major player in the US with over 40 million subscribers enjoying its mix of originals, next-day TV episodes, and movie catalog.

  • Amazon Prime Video - Bundled with Prime membership, it now reaches over 200 million viewers seeking prestige originals and licensed movies/shows.

  • Disney+ - This new(ish) service already has 130 million+ subscribers eager for Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and other content.

  • HBO Max - WarnerMedia's streaming home offers hit shows like Game of Thrones alongside DC films, classic movies, and more to nearly 76 million global subscribers.

Streaming Service Growth

  • Global streaming subscriptions grew 26% YoY in 2020 to reach over 1 billion total subscribers. Asia and Latin America saw the fastest growth as services expanded into new markets.

  • In the US, the percentage of households with at least one streaming service jumped from 88% in 2019 to 93% in 2020. 55% of households now have 3+ streaming services.

  • Viewing hours on Netflix alone shot up 25% YoY in 2020 as consumers streamed more during lockdowns. Total time spent streaming now exceeds live/scheduled TV viewing in many markets.

Consumer Streaming Habits

  • On average, US consumers now spend 1 hour 17 minutes per day streaming video content - up from 1 hour in 2019. Gen Z (ages 14-25) streams the most at 2+ hours per day.

  • 63% of consumers say streaming services are easier and more convenient than watching scheduled live TV. 72% stream programs more frequently now versus 5 years ago.

  • 37% subscribe to 3-4 streaming services, while 13% use 5 or more. Young millennials (ages 25-34) subscribe to the most services on average.

As consumers shift more of their viewing time to streaming platforms, it presents both challenges and opportunities for movie theaters. While streaming has upended traditional release windows, it also allows theaters to better align with evolving consumer preferences and unlock new revenue streams.

Benefits of Streaming for Movie Theaters

Implementing a branded streaming service offers a variety of benefits for theaters looking to diversify revenue, expand reach, and improve the moviegoer experience:

Incremental Revenue Opportunities

  • Recurring subscription revenue from customers accessing both new releases and catalog content. Pricing models like $9.99/month have proven effective.

  • Transactional revenue from electronic sell-through (EST) or TVOD sales for home premieres at price points like $19.99 for new releases.

  • Upsell opportunities like premium channel add-ons or ad-free tiers at prices like $4.99/month.

Wider Audience Reach

  • Attract new customers beyond just in-theater moviegoers through nationwide availability on devices like mobile, streaming TVs, and laptops.

  • Appeal to shifting preferences towards on-demand, anytime access to content. Allows access at home and on the go.

  • Provide 24/7 access to your brand, content library, and film programming versus just showtimes.

Enhanced Brand Awareness

  • Showcase and reinforce your brand identity, logo, and imagery via a streaming service. Viewers engage with the brand whenever they use the service.

  • Improved discoverability and always-on presence beyond just movie showtime listings.

  • Tell your brand story more effectively via streaming and highlight your unique offerings and values.

Implementing a Streaming Service

Launching and operating a streaming platform involves evaluating technology options, resource needs, and more. Here are key considerations when assessing streaming service approaches for movie theaters:

Streaming Service Options

  • Turnkey white-label streaming - Platforms like Filmgrail provide complete end-to-end solutions including the content management system (CMS), video encoding, apps, monetization and more.

  • Partnerships - Some services allow you to create branded "channels" or slates to showcase your programming.

  • Build in-house - Developing proprietary streaming technology requires extensive investment in video infrastructure and technical expertise.

Key Capabilities Needed

  • Robust CMS to ingest, manage, publish and automate large content libraries

  • Video encoding and content delivery network (CDN) for efficient media processing and delivery

  • Apps across devices (mobile, TV, web) to reach viewers everywhere

  • Customer subscription management, payments, and account tools

  • Analytics and business intelligence to glean insights

Ongoing Operating Model

  • Content licensing and rights management across changing windows

  • Customer acquisition and retention marketing

  • Product roadmap development and UX enhancements

  • IT, app maintenance, and development

  • Customer support and content moderation

The right streaming solution depends on budget, technical capabilities, and content strategy. While building in-house offers more control, turnkey platforms like Filmgrail provide proven technology and best practices tailored to a cinema's needs.

Case Studies and Examples

Here are a few real-world examples of how movie theaters and chains have successfully implemented streaming services:

Studio Movie Grill

  • Launched SMB Stage earlier this year, powered by Filmgrail's platform

  • Gives members access to AMC's full slate of new releases each week following theatrical run

  • Also includes a library of award-winning films, documentaries, and SMB Stage originals

Golden Village Cinema

  • Singapore's leading theater chain launched GV Movie Club streaming last year

  • Over 30% of members visit cinemas more frequently after joining the service

  • Members spend 20% more on average versus non-members

Landmark Theatres

  • Specialty art house chain powered launch of Landmark Studio streaming service

  • Showcases handpicked films that align with brand identity and local community

  • Provided flexibility for virtual releases during theater shutdowns

These examples prove streaming, when well-executed, can drive revenue, engagement, loyalty, and other key metrics for theaters.

Why Filmgrail

Filmgrail provides an end-to-end white label streaming solution tailored specifically for movie theaters' needs:

  • Content management, video playback, apps, monetization and more

  • Flexible business models including TVOD, SVOD, freemium tiers

  • Robust analytics with insights on engagement, revenue, churn, etc.

  • Innovations like social screening rooms

  • Dedicated customer success managers and 24/7 technical support

  • Trusted by major chains like Studio Movie Grill, Landmark Theatres, Golden Village, and more

Filmgrail's cinema-focused platform makes launching and scaling a streaming service seamless.

Learn more about how Filmgrail powers streaming for theaters


Implementing a streaming service presents a major opportunity for theaters to enhance audience reach and revenue. Turnkey solutions like Filmgrail provide the proven technology, capabilities, and best practices needed to successfully launch streaming. Case studies prove streaming, when well-executed, can drive metrics like subscriber growth, engagement, loyalty, and spend.

As consumer viewing habits continue shifting, streaming allows theaters to meet audiences where they are while showcasing programming in new formats. By leveraging streaming, theaters can build deeper audience relationships and unlock incremental revenue streams over the long-term. Evaluating potential streaming platforms and models now can help position your theater for success.

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