Ad-free movies in theatres? A new viewing experience awaits cinema lovers

Mumbai, April 27 (IANS): Watching content on any medium with commercials peppered during its runtime is not a pleasant experience for viewers. Some of them opt for a premium OTT subscription and get a seamless experience, but theatres and television channels still regard advertisements as a revenue stream.

The scenario, though, is changing. Theatres too are taking the ad-free route to offer an unparalleled cinematic experience to the audience, which hasn't been forthcoming about going to watch movies on the big screen.

So, how does a theatre earn additional revenue if it gives up on commercials before each show and during intermissions? Commercials, after all, have been a feature of the cinema-viewing experience for as long as people remember.

Well, the trick seems to be the utilisation of time. The string of advertisements per screening of a movie clocks anywhere between 30-35 minutes. Bypassing commercials, each theatre can save about 45 minutes and use it for the next screening, thereby generating additional revenue from ticket sales and food and beverage services.

The ad-free movie experience is now available in the luxury segment of PVR INOX. The idea behind this experience stems from the time-conscious nature of the audience.

Renaud Palliere, Chief of The Luxury Collection and Innovation, PVR INOX Limited, in a conversation with IANS, shared insights into why the chain has decided to go ad-free for the premium segment.

"We discovered that a specific audience set valued time more than anything else," Palliere said. "The pre-show segment or the advertisements run for 30 to 40 minutes and we learnt that this audience figured that out. Not only did they figure it out, they also started arriving late for the movies to avoid the ads. They arrived close to the showtime. The doors of the hall are open as soon as it is ready to seat the audience."

Talking about the impact of the changing audience behaviour, Palliere said, "Their arrival at the hall a few minutes before the screening of the movie kind of defeated the purpose of advertisements. That's the reason we decided to come up with providing an ad-free experience to the viewers. As I mentioned, this set of audience is willing to pay more, but doesn’t like to compromise on time."

Palliere added that PVR INOX has decided to launch the ad-free experience for movies in three cities -- Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru -- in about 10 "ultra premium" Insignia and Director's Cut cinemas, and "the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive".

Palliere added: “They now experience only 10 minutes of the pre-show package, which consists of trailers and teasers of upcoming movies."

The revenues of each of the participating theatres have not been affected in the least. LED installations and plasma screens in the lounge and the gallery of each theatre are still very much intact, ensuring a steady flow of revenue from ads. These are the common areas and are accessed by the audience cutting across all segments.

The multiplex chain has no plans of rolling out the ad-free experience to the rest of its cinemas, except those in the premium segment, which will see a further scaling up in the second phase of the rollout.

"Beyond the premium group of patrons, there seems to be no point in rolling out this feature to other audience segments that watch movies in theatres," Palliere concluded.