Blog: Cinema business grows by offering additional services and unique experiences – Streaming seems to affect traditional linear television more

Cinema business seems to be booming in the Helsinki metropolitan area. During a short period, there has been several cinema openings. A market leader, Finnish circuit Finnkino, has opened two new theatres in 2018. However, in addition to that, an Estonian chain Cinamon entered the Finnish markets and opened its first theatre in Helsinki. Their second opening follows in 2019.

Cinema business grows with IMAX, Scape, boutique theatres

In addition, the whole cinema concept has evolved in the last few years – and there are many options for different consumers preferences: IMAX and Scape auditoriums provide a technically advanced cinema experience. You can upgrade to a more comfortable chair for an extra fee or choose a boutique theatre with a cosy atmosphere and even enjoy a tapas plate or a glass of wine while watching a movie. Your cinema experience can comprise many different things and satisfy many different tastes.

Cinemas stand up to Netflix

All this has happened at the same time as the streaming service offering increasing. Why do people go to the movies if they can just sit at home watching Netflix? The answer is quite simple: movie theatres offer an experience that you cannot get from sitting on the living room couch with a bag of sweets. Sounds, lights, the picture quality – the whole big screen magic is missing at home. This all explains why the cinema business has kept on growing.

Streaming vs. linear television

Actually, streaming services challenge mostly linear television, which is a comparable service. Both are consumed mostly at home and they provide similar experiences. Streaming just provides more flexibility and more versatility regarding the offering, and it is, therefore, a preferred option for many. Finnpanel (a Finnish consultant agency that monitors how Finns watch television) reports that the time used watching TV, has declined a bit from 2017 to 2018 (source). This has happened, although paid TV channels are included in the calculation. Who is to blame? My guess is streaming.

In the movie business, a quality offline experience seems to put a foot down against online services. However, the cinema business has also genuinely enhanced its offering. They have actively brought in more elements to be able to provide an enjoyable experience to their customers. Not to mention the fact that they have invented a way to push additional sales with more and better services.

Business lesson to be learnt from the cinema industry

Perhaps other industries which compete against online offering should take this model as a valuable business lesson. It is very difficult to compete against the abundance of offering with e-commerce or other online services. However, the customer experience is not just about offering everything in the world at one counter. There is not just one answer that would apply to all business in the online competition.

However, movie theatres and the whole cinema business have got something right – they have deepened their own strengths by offering unique experiences that cannot be obtained in any other way. This must be the right track.