Thursday, August 27, 2009

Theater chains pull newspaper movie listings

As if newspapers weren’t smarting enough from the loss of classified and real estate listings and the revenue that comes from those, now comes a report that two of the biggest theater chains have begun scaling back their movie listings in print papers.

According to Editor and Publisher, Regal Entertainment Group and AMC Entertainment – the top two theater chains in the U.S. – have either reduced or cut completely the listings in print papers. Instead they’re directing ticket buyers to online ticketing services, which don’t charge for listings but instead take a cut of the ticket price for their revenue. Basically theater chains, which are seeing their own web traffic rise, feel there’s more value in continuing to promote their own sites as a hub for people online than there is in continuing to pay for newspaper listings, despite the argument that such listings have benefits in terms of consumer awareness.

What’s most interesting to me in this story from a media industry point of view is that it’s a case where newspapers are not losing money to a service that duplicates an area they’ve dominated but in a cheaper and more user-friendly way, as in the case of classifieds shifting over to craigslist. Instead these movie listings are now moving over to “legitimate” businesses that are working with the exhibitors. That’s a very different foe to go up against since Fandango, Moviefone and the other ticketing services actually have revenue models and are partners with the theaters, not just upstarts who come in and seemingly swipe ad money by offering for free the services the newspaper used to be paid to provide. - Chris Thilk: MMM

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