Can Big Data Save Hollywood in the DTC Film Era?

BlogJan 28, 2021

Mark Moeder


Despite a steady shift toward in-home entertainment, the film industry managed to sustain a theatrical release-driven business model for years — until the COVID-19 pandemic upended everything. Direct-to-consumer (DTC) release models are here to stay, and studios must quickly reassess monetization strategies, even on a title-by-title basis, to adapt to new consumer behaviors and expectations.

Time will tell whether DTC and hybrid release models will compensate for box office revenue losses across the board. But data can tell us even more, and much sooner. Therein lies the opportunity. Studios that adopt a data-driven model will be in the best position to not only weather the storm, but to capitalize on a shifting market that is unlikely to normalize quickly or soon.

Three immediate changes are critical to success in the current and post-COVID-19 film era: new mindsets, operational agility, and better tools.

In the theatrical release model, revenue data was limited to what theaters could provide. Insight was delayed, and insufficient compared to the rich insight that drive decision-making in the streaming segment. Studio executives placed big bets without a complete understanding of a film’s revenue potential, target audience, and platform appeal.

DTC film releases remove that hurdle, offering up-to-the-second data that can provide granular and predictive intelligence. VOD data can improve promotional targeting, influence content themes, and optimize distribution strategies. It can create new revenue opportunities. It can hedge investments. But, it has to be accessible.

In my article for Streaming Media, I dig further into the opportunities that data holds and the actions that studios can take now to seize the opportunity ahead.