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Film vs. TV Battle Intensifies: Universal Exec Calls for Theater Owners to Invest in VOD

Film vs. TV Battle Intensifies: Universal Exec Calls for Theater Owners to Invest in VOD

“The DVD business is declining, and the home-viewing experience is being replaced by long-form serialized drama. It’s a concern for us.”

So said David Kosse, the president of Universal International, to foreign exhibitors Monday during his keynote address at CinemaCon’s international day, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “We are ceding too much ground,” he went on. “We are seeing a golden age of television. It unnerves me to say the least, particularly because there is some great serialized drama out there. I love ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘House of Cards.'”

Kosse lobbed for exhibitors to invest in VOD and digital space in order to stem the rush to the other, ever-growing entertainment medium of television. He said they would benefit from having a financial stake in the growing revenue from the home entertainment market. He also noted television has the advantages of being able to be seen wherever a viewer would like — via the internet on their computer, phone, tablet, and internet-enabled TVs — whereas films can only be seen at theaters (at first). 

It’s important to note Kosse’s company, Universal International, is owned by cable giant Comcast. Indiewire took note of the growing battle between TV and film during this year’s SXSW, where television was given its own program within the film festival. While the expansion into a territory previously reserved for film was seen as a win for advertisers, there was concern over whether or not it was taking away opportunities for independent films to be seen and purchased for distribution.

Josh Hartnett, whose new Showtime program “Penny Dreadful” premiered at the festival, said “It’s great to have a festival that’s devoted to film entirely. I think there are still quite a few festivals that are devoted to film entirely. But the way people are viewing television and the way people are viewing film these days is changing, and it’s not just necessarily about going to the theater and seeing it. The content is becoming content and not necessarily film or TV. Is it interesting content to go see? That’s a question I think people are asking themselves when they’re creating programs for the festivals like this.”

Jonathan Lisco, the showrunner for AMC’s upcoming drama “Halt and Catch Fire,” also chimed in on the status of how television is seen within the industry. “[…]people who are really credible in our business, the people who are making episodic television and movies, are realizing a long-form feature for grown ups is the cable television show.”

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