Netflix And Movie Theaters Don't Actually Seem To Be In Competition

La La Land movie theater

There is a widely held belief that Netflix and other streaming services are pulling audiences away from movie theaters. The notion seems logical. After all, there would seem to be less incentive to go to the theater when there is a wealth of content available in the comfort of your own home. However, this may be a specious belief as a new study indicates that Netflix and movie theaters don't actually seem to be in competition with one another.

The study, conducted by EY's Quantitative Economics and Statistics group, found that people that see movies in the theater more frequently also consume more content from streaming services, according to Variety. As revealed in the study, respondents who went to the movies at a theater nine or more times in the past 12 months averaged 11 hours of streaming content a week. Conversely, those respondents who only went to the theater once or twice in the past year averaged 7 hours.

You might think that the heavy streamers are people who are skipping the theatrical experience altogether, but that doesn't appear to be the case based on this study's findings. The study found that almost of those people who hadn't been to a movie theater in the past year, almost half of them also didn't stream any movies or TV shows. And as far as those who were avoiding theaters, only 18% streamed eight or more hours of content a week.

The study, commissioned by the National Association of Theater Owners, had researchers survey 2,500 respondents in November of this year. Of those 2,500, 80% had seen at least one movie in the theater in the past year.

It has long been thought that declining theatrical attendance was at least partially attributable to the rise of streaming platforms, just as TV was once heralded as the death of movie theaters. But it would seem that the conventional wisdom that streaming services are cannibalizing theatrical exhibition, is not backed up by the data, at least based on this one study.

Moreover, it seems that those people who are voracious consumers of film and television do so through both avenues, which makes sense. If you're a movie fan, you want to see a lot of movies and are probably willing to do so independent of how exactly you see them. Likewise, those that don't go to the movies often aren't consuming a ton of content period, even on the cheaper and easier streaming platforms.

The lines are also somewhat more blurred than they once were, with some Netflix movies, like Alfonso Cuarón's Roma, getting theatrical releases, albeit limited. And despite streaming services being more ubiquitous than ever, the North American box office is on track to set a new record this year.

Obviously the cost factor is a huge reason that people see streaming services taking away from movies, as in terms of pure quantity, streaming platforms offer more for your money. But it appears that services like Netflix are killing cable, not theaters. The number of cord-cutters is expected to rise to a huge 32.8% or 33 million adults next year.

While the results of this study are far from definitive, it does offer something of a rising tide lifts all boats type of read. Both streaming services like Netflix and traditional movie theaters each offer something different and hopefully the market can support both to give audiences options and filmmakers the chance to have their films be seen the way they were meant to.

Check out our 2019 release schedule for all of the biggest movies coming to theaters next year.

Nick Evans

Nick grew up in Maryland has degrees in Film Studies and Communications. His life goal is to walk the earth, meet people and get into adventures. He’s also still looking for The Adventures of Pete and Pete season 3 on DVD if anyone has a lead.