SAGE Advice: Audience for Movie Listings Migrating to Web

By: Leo J. Shapiro, Erik Shapiro and Steve Yahn Almost seven in ten consumers (68%) interviewed for our February Leo J. Shapiro and Associates national poll say they have ever checked movie listings and times, either in newspapers, online, or both.

* 27% use newspapers -- but not the Internet -- to look up movie times.

* 17% are flick listing clickers. They use the Internet, but not newspapers, to look up movie times.

* and 25% look up movie times at both newspaper and Internet movie listings.

That makes only a 10-point gap between newspaper and Internet share of dedicated movie listing searchers.

More women than men ever look at movie listings, both in the newspaper and online. Of all people who look at both types of movie listings, 53% are women and 47% are men. However, more men than women use only the Internet to look up movie listings and times (flick listing clickers are 41% women and 59% men).

People who look at movie listings tend to be younger and wealthier than those who don't. Flick listing clickers are likely to be even wealthier and younger still.

The average flick listing clicker is 35.8 years old and makes $77.6 thousand a year. Those who only read newspaper movie time listings are, on average, 53.1 years old and make $55.9 thousand a year.

The greatest concentration of people who only read newspaper movie listings is in the East North Central states -- like Ohio -- which has 16% of the total sample and 22% of all newspaper-only listing readers.

The Pacific states -- with 15% of the total sample -- is home to the greatest proportion (23%) of people who use both the newspaper and Internet to look up movie

As for flick listing clickers, the greatest concentration of people who peruse web but eschew paper movie listings is in Texas and the other West South Central states, which include 12% of the sample and 19% of all flick listing clickers.


The competition for movie listing audience turns on the relative efficacy of print and online communications to provide efficient ways to select and gain access to a movie.

Print movie listings provided by newspapers can be conveniently searched while relaxing with the paper.

But online communications are almost infinitely superior to print in terms of their ability to deliver massive amounts of information at low cost. In searching for a movie to see, consumers value the ability to secure a rich amount of information about movies that are of interest -- to, for example, see clips or trailers that excite but do not satisfy their curiosity about a movie of interest.

In the short run, as the search functions and the ability of online media to deliver massive amounts of information, interactively, gets better and better, print-based newspapers will become less and less able to compete for movie listing searchers.

In the longer run, technology will develop that permits seamless integration of print and on-line communications. The question, then, is whether ownership of the integrated online and print media will be achieved by newspapers that are currently print-based and have only primitive online capabilities or by Internet companies that are currently online based and have no print capabilities.

The not so distant future looks bleak for media companies that do not take on the risk of integrating print and online communications. But where is it written [certainly not in ink on pulp or electronic] that the newspapers can not become a doorway to the world of online advertising? Where is it written that an online publication can never aspire to provide users with a convenient to read print edition?

The compelling challenge for newspapers is to integrate their print and online editions so that readers can turn to the Internet to amplify advertising they spotted while searching print advertising.

There is no reason why newspapers cannot work to integrate their print and online editions, so that advertisers who buy space in the print edition at a fixed price are also allowed ample additional online advertising space which they pay for on the basis of the number of consumers who actually click on the ad.


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