ECA Conference 2019

Over 130 event cinema professionals gathered in Amsterdam at the impressive EYE Film Museum to attend the Event Cinema Association’s annual conference on 10th October 2019. The conference showcased an extensive array of data and information about event cinema – insights that have been lacking in this area of the industry – which were presented and discussed by an array of event cinema stakeholders from across Europe.

The day started by celebrating another successful year of event cinema content and box office takings, acknowledging the recording- breaking success of National Theatre Live’s release of Fleabag, which is now the biggest event cinema title of all time in the UK and Ireland.

Movio set the scene for the day outlining the diversity and strength of event cinema audiences. The analytics compared the UK and US markets, highlighting that female customers dominate audiences in both markets for event cinema content, yet live concerts over index for the under 25-year olds. The presentation also looked at frequency, spend and crossover attendance to mainstream theatrical content.  The session concluded noting the opportunities for the sector to further enhance understanding on audience behaviours around event cinema.

Showtime Analytics and Comscore teamed up to give an interesting insight to event cinema performance across four territories – UK, Germany, Netherlands and Italy – combining their data from the last 8 years to get a deeper understanding on market trends. The metrics analysed box office, market share, percentage of screenings and unique titles played across cinemas in their territories. It was a fascinating way to present data to better understand the market performance and opportunities. The session concluded with a teaser around the next steps of the partnership with the ECA to examine the impact of event cinema on overall box office.  The next wave of data will look to demonstrate the value and uplift that event cinema can bring to overall box office.

One of the big topics of the day focused in on the results of the event cinema survey that was conducted in partnership with UNIC and the EDCF. The survey  – which was completed – by 113 cinema operators from across Europe and North America  – explored the various trends and developments in event cinema. Most importantly it provided extensive detail about the technical challenges related to the distribution of event cinema content- both live and recorded. Among these, sound levels, accessibility and the wider availability of subtitling were all highlighted as areas in need of improvement. The ‘tech-talk’ from the panel discussion highlighted the need for bespoke training for cinema staff, the desire for more live content but also for improved mutual support between providers and exhibitors to better support the delivery of live events. A full report of the survey results will be made available in the coming weeks.

Powster got the afternoon started with an animated presentation around how to use data to build a successful marketing platform. The session looked at ticket conversions by genre and territory, with music having the biggest engagement with audiences. Traffic on sites are busiest on a Sunday with the most active times being after 4.00pm. Powster talked through a number of recommendations around website engagement and best campaign launch times to help maximise the impact and drive ticket conversions.  

The afternoon went on to explore the marketing findings from the survey, in which ECA Board Director Jan Runge hosted a roundtable discussion with leading representatives from Kinepolis, Pathe Live and Cineplex Canada. The discussion emphasised the importance of partnerships, effective targeted marketing but also what lies ahead – how are we engaging young audiences, how can we help increase food and beverage spend and what will 2020 bring? It will be a defining year for event cinema, particularly with more streaming platforms (no names mentioned) competing to capture major events, as well as feature films.

The day ended with a lively discussion around the future of event cinema and its role within the industry. There is no doubt that this is a growing area and those working in event cinema  content have successfully packaged and delivered a fruitful model that attracts new audiences to cinemas. Audiences that want to enjoy a shared experience of magical moments – whether it be opera, ballet, music, gaming – event cinema is entertaining audiences outside of the traditional forms and that is it’s USP. The term event cinema is a useful industry phrase to define the ecology and performance of the category but to audiences we should be content led in terms of marketing and promoting the experience it offers.

It was clear from the sessions there is certainly a need for greater transparency of data and indeed access to such insights. The ECA  delivered a number of informative sessions, that have sparked informative conversations on what more we can do to help better understand and grow this area of box office.

All presentations are available to download below.

The ECA are hugely grateful to all the contributors, speakers and sponsors for helping to deliver such an informative event.