Live events are making their way into our diaries and the theatres and cinemas are open, welcoming back their audiences. Outdoor events have been predictably popular where fresh air and adopting social distancing is deemed relatively safe, but how do audiences feel about socialising and shared experiences indoors? Or have we got comfortable accessing our entertainment online at home?
We conducted a survey to find out how audiences felt about attending the cinema post covid and the results were really insightful. The statistic that caught our attention was that 58% of 18-24 year olds still prefer going to the cinema to watch movies. 59% of respondents in this age range had already been to the cinema in the last three months. This shows a good level of confidence amongst this demographic to resume their pre-pandemic enthusiasm for seeing films at a cinema, and is great news for the venues. It is however worth noting here that 69% of all respondents, across the age ranges, have not attended a cinema in the last three months. This indicates confidence and enthusiasm is more prevalent in the young adult demographic, as you might expect.
Do you plan to visit the cinema as frequently as you did before the pandemic?
Respondents were asked how many times they tended to visit the cinema pre Covid and how many times they envisaged attending in 2022. It was the mid-lifers, (45-54 year olds) that envisaged their visits would be markedly less in 2022 than pre-pandemic. All other age groups mostly intended to return to their previous attendance habits. This includes the more vulnerable age range in the 65yrs+ category. What can we conclude from this? Is this drop off from the mid-lifers about the pandemic? Perhaps that this age range is the most risk-averse? Or are there reasons unconnected to the pandemic that are putting the mid-lifers off?
We’re interested to see if this demographic does revert back to pre-pandemic levels at a later date, or whether the cinema experience just doesn’t have the same draw as it used to for this age group.
Are streaming services a threat to cinemas?
As we’ve learned, nearly 60% of 18-24 year olds would rather watch a film at the cinema. This piqued our curiosity because we’re often led to believe that this age group are the most ardent fans of the home streaming services. We might have assumed that watching cult shows with friends at home was an inexpensive and accessible socialising activity. One that could easily replace meeting friends at a cinema. This is great news for filmmakers and venues. The research indicates this demographic are more than ready to return to the big screen to get their film fix.
In fact, of those that answered they would prefer to watch films at home only 26% of respondents used ‘a lot of choice via streaming’ as their reason. This was representative across age groups too and was a surprise in the results. With so much great and inexpensive content instantly available, we expected streaming to have been a bigger disruptor here. However, the research shows that other more fundamental reasons are keeping us from the cinema.
52% of respondents cited feeling more comfortable at home as their reason. If we surmise that ‘comfort’ is linked to feeling safe, we might see this factor become less significant if acute fears around the pandemic continue to subside.
Looking past the comfort factor, 50% of respondents cited the cost of going to the cinema as their reason for preferring to watch movies at home. Delving further into the figures, the majority of respondents who cite cost as their reason are over 45 years old. The younger demographics appear much less influenced by the cost. This suggests the experience meets the needs and expectations for younger people, but perhaps less so for the mid-lifers? It is also possible that the mid-lifers demographic are the most likely to be taking dependents to the cinema so their costs for the outing increase significantly with multiple tickets, food and drink purchases. The question for the venues to review is how to attract this significant demographic back? How can cinemas encourage mid-lifers to return, to feel safe and to feel their experience was real value for money?
It seems that for those who aren’t rushing back to the cinemas yet, the reasons for staying away are mostly about our comfort and the cost, rather than the quality and quantity of content at our fingertips at home. How will this change and evolve? Will the ease of streaming films at home ever compare with the full cinematic experience? The data suggests not yet!
Survey reported: 11 October 2021
Sample size: 1,019
If you’re interested to learn how audience attitudes and behaviours are changing towards attending events and venues post pandemic, talk to us about commissioning a bespoke survey. We’ll help you obtain accurate consumer insight and help you evaluate, share and use that insight effectively.