AMC Theatres has become the first U.S. exhibitor to launch its own streaming platform, extending its reach to moviegoers into the home entertainment space.
The service, AMC Theatres On Demand, allows members of the circuit’s loyalty program, AMC Stubs, to rent or purchase 2,000 titles from major studios. Moviegoers can access the content through the exhibitor’s website, mobile app, connected devices, or SmartTV applications.
AMC states it has agreements with every major Hollywood studio for digital rentals and purchases, opening a selection of new and repertory titles to its catalogue. All titles on AMC Theatres On Demand will adhere to the existing theatrical window and will only be made available to viewers following their run in cinemas.
“The addition of AMC Theatres On Demand, which extends our movie offerings for AMC Stubs members into their homes, makes perfect sense for AMC Theatres, for our studio partners and for our millions of movie-loving guests,” said Adam Aron, CEO and President, AMC Theatres, in a press release. “With more than 20 million AMC Stubs households, and with our web site and smartphone apps already being visited hundreds of millions of times annually by movie fans, AMC Theatres is in a unique position to promote specific movies with greater personalization than has ever been possible before. Through the launch of AMC Theatres On Demand, we can reach movie lovers directly and make it easy for them to access films digitally.”
AMC Theatres will be partnering with its namesake in the TV space, AMC Networks, to include titles from the IFC Films and RLJE Films catalogue on their service beginning this fall. The exhibition circuit will in turn help promote AMC Networks’ own streaming services—Acorn TV, Shudder, Sundance Now, and UMC—to their moviegoers.
While the concept of a major movie theater chain launching its own streaming platform is new in the United States, the concept has already been proven by leading circuits in neighboring countries. Canada’s Cineplex and Mexico’s Cinépolis, market leaders in their respective territories, have hosted their own home entertainment streaming channels for several years.
The move to streaming has allowed Canada’s Cineplex to explore initiatives like Super Tickets, giving moviegoers the chance to buy a movie ticket and a digital copy in the same transaction. Mexico’s Cinépolis Klic is also an active player in its growing streaming market, even allowing viewers to watch some of their favorite TV series, including HBO programming.
The Cineplex and Cinépolis VOD channels are both linked to their circuits’ respective loyalty programs, giving viewers points for each digital rental and purchase. AMC Theatres On Demand will follow this model for its AMC Stubs members, allowing them to earn points that count towards in-theater rewards. Crucially, transactions on AMC Theatres On Demand are only available to members of its loyalty program, AMC Stubs.
AMC Stubs is the country’s leading cinema loyalty scheme with over 900,000 members. It features several membership tiers that range from a free entry-level program, AMC Stubs Insider, to a premium subscription service, AMC Stubs A-List. A direct integration with AMC Stubs essentially doubles as a data play for the circuit, extending its insights into members’ viewing preferences in the home entertainment space.
The closest comparison to this venture in the U.S. market is Fandango’s 2016 acquisition of streaming platform M-GO from Dreamworks Animation and Technicolor. The ticketing service rebranded the platform as FandangoNOW and continues to operate it as an extension of its business in the theatrical space.
AMC’s foray into streaming comes at a time when Hollywood’s biggest studios and largest media conglomerates are positioning themselves to claim a piece of growing streaming revenues. New streaming channels from Apple, Disney, and TimeWarner are scheduled to begin their roll-out in the coming months.