How Can Cinemas Satisfy A Nation Of Binge-Watching Addicts?

If you’ve ever been addicted to a box set you will be familiar with that “want it all”, “want it now” feeling where you let one episode run into the next… and the next. For those of you with a Netflix, Hayu, Amazon Prime or any other streaming service subscription, I can confidently assume there will have been a time where you’ve caught your reflection on the screen during the episode change and thought “just one more”.

A massive 75 per cent of us are consuming entertainment like this, openly admitting to binge-watching a TV series. But in this multi-screen world we live in, watching the series just isn’t enough. We need to know what people are saying about it, who the actors are and their entire on-screen history.

This need for 24/7 media consumption, and the rise of online streaming services, poses a very real threat to the cinema industry. There is a genuine risk that we will choose back-to-back series watching in the comfort of our own home over spending extra money and travel costs to view a single movie at the local cinema complex.

In order to keep ticket takings up, cinema chains will have to work harder to meet their ever-changing customers’ needs. These changes must be framed around improving customer experiences to encourage loyalty and return visits.

For cinemas to stay on trend, they need to reimagine their customer experience. Consumers are now living in an on-demand world booking travel through apps like Uber and food via tech-first companies like Deliveroo. Any company not thinking about its tech offering is doing itself a disservice. One way to do this is to shift to a streaming format to reduce time spent physically transferring high security film reels across the country. Even bespoke art house cinemas like Curzon are offering on-demand services for specialist movies, giving viewers access to their favourite independent films, at home.

With the right technology in place, the cinema and film industry can fully embrace the benefits of secure streaming. This also opens up the opportunity of using cinemas for streaming of major TV shows, like live sporting and public events, to maximise ticket revenue and sell additional services.

If there’s anything the digital revolution has taught businesses, across all sectors, is the fact that knowing who your customers are and their specific preferences, is imperative. For example, restaurants including Gourmet Burger Kitchen, have loyalty schemes offering perks such as free burgers when visiting more than one location. Tailored deals and apps that allow cool features like ‘at-table ordering’ and ‘Appi Hour’, where users can activate special deals for an hour of their choosing, are also becoming commonplace.

Retailers like ASOS are also offering engaging loyalty schemes that keep their customers shopping. Their A-LIST is free to join when customers make a purchase at ASOS and they can earn 5 points for every £1 they spend on the site – with 500 points exchangeable for a £5 ASOS voucher.

What can cinemas learn from other industries?

With a wealth of data at their fingertips cinemas can also use tech to obtain and analyse information about visitor trends and develop bespoke loyalty schemes. The data can be used for repeat film screenings, tailored food and drink offerings, movie nights with specially selected films, based around visitor preferences, identified through data analysis.

Historically, a cinema visit was an occasion to dress up for, offering up an experience similar to that delivered by live theatres – deemed quite luxurious and special.

There’s great potential to revitalise the cinema experience and bring it into 2017. Investing in technology such as photo booths, Instagram-able break out areas in theme with the selected latest releases, touchscreen technologies and self-service facilities could not only enhance satisfaction and drive loyalty, but also drive organic marketing for cinemas – letting the customers do the talking on social.

On-demand viewing is here to stay, and managed correctly can breathe new life into the cinema, rather than being a threat to the whole industry. But this can only be achieved if cinemas take full advantage of the right technology. Cinemas need to up their game to become more attractive by engaging with customers in order to get bums on seats.

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