Getting Emotional with Movies at the Screenvision Upfront

By Charlene Weisler

“The true magic of cinema,” stated John Partilla, CEO Screenvision Media, “engages audiences through emotions” and creates “moments of wonder.” Screenvision’s 2019 upfront, held at the Ziegfeld Theater, highlighted not only the unique experience of attending a movie in a theater but also the unique quality of that type of content. “The essential point is that movie theaters, whether neighborhood or epic, are the cathedrals of storytelling,” Partilla explained, saying they have the ability to, “mesmerize audiences and reach, engage, powerfully impact and move consumers.”

Part of what makes movies different is that it is a shared experience with people you don’t know. Today’s cinemas are also adding accoutrements such as bar service and recliner chairs that make the experience more of an event. “2018 was the biggest year for movies,” noted Katy Loria, Screenvision’s Chief Revenue Officer, “with the highest box office ever with The Avengers.” She added that theaters attract audiences that are young, affluent, educated and socially active decision-makers.

Screenvision’s point of differentiation is that these audiences are essentially unreachable with TV because consumers have become streamers of glass content and avoid ads by either subscribing to SVOD or multitasking by using a digital device while watching TV. Dubbed the “unreachables” by Christine Martino, EVP, National Ad Sales, she posited that they are, “not distracted at the movies. They are craving to pay attention.” She advised advertisers that reallocating GRPs from TV to cinema will, “get those eyeballs back. Cinema is a solution to audience replacement. It is incremental reach.”

The company has been collecting data on moviegoers for last four years and now has a deep understanding of viewer needs, actions, habits and media consumption at the screen level. Among the new technological innovations are pixels built into the screen and a smart network which are access points to advanced targeting. This will extend beyond the screen to social retargeting and measuring attribution. They have also recently constructed new metric – an engagement rating.

In addition to data initiatives that highlight the value of cinema audiences, Screenvision also announced a partnership with the Geena Davis institute to support films that break through stereotypes to identify those scripts and films that show balanced portrayals of women and girls. This pro-social partnership will be featured in segment in Screenvision’s preshow.

In a world where viewers have the option to view content anywhere at any time, the ability to lean back in the dark comfort of a cushy chair and share an emotional experience with a group of strangers may just break through the haze of device distractions.

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