Parks Associates Blog

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Starz corrects us on the movie windows

Thanks to the folks at Starz Entertainment who called after seeing the blog Netflix and Starz - Yes, They Do Windows!

According to Starz, we got nearly all of the information correct in the post regarding the sequential distribution/"windowing" of Hollywood movie content, save for one thing - the length of time in which a title sits exclusively in the first Pay TV window.

  • The Pay TV window (which includes Subscription Video-on-Demand, or SVoD) for content starts about 9-11 months after a movie hits the theaters;
  • The Pay TV window lasts for about 18 months (I had previously said seven);
  • After content is aired in the Pay TV window, it then becomes the exclusive offering of broadcasters and syndicators for a period of up to seven years; and
  • After that exclusive period, the Pay TV players get about another 18 months of exclusive air rights.

It's worth noting, too, the rights that Starz has to offer the content as part of a subscription. It's a very unique part of their business in the electronic distribution game, so it can't be understated. Here's our understanding of their advantage:

The contracts that Starz and other Pay TV providers (such as HBO) enjoy with the major Hollywood studios give the pay TV entities broad periods of exclusivity for the electronic subscription-based distribution of those films across all platforms. This encompasses about 85% or so of all major theatrically released films in the US. Generally speaking, all third parties are precluded from offering these films electronically by subscription for the first nine or so years of the movie’s “life” after theatrical release. Even though the pay TV entities may not air or distribute the films themselves for large periods of this nine-year range, they are contractually protected from others offering them until the beginning of the “library” period. This is about 9-10 after theatrical release. Then, all pre-existing contractual obligations have been met and, so long as the studio in question is open to licensing the film, any third party may enter into title-specific negotiations.

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