Theater owners weren’t all that worried about streaming video services back when they were considered Internet-only products that a niche audience of dweebs used on their tiny computer screens. But in the past few years technology has increased to the point where screens are pretty much ubiquitous, people are getting more and more used to watching random things on whatever random devices they randomly happen to have with them, and things like smart TVs and Internet-connected set top boxes have led to a reality where people can now stream movies on the gigantic TVs in their living rooms just as easily as they can stream them to their tiny phones (which aren’t so tiny anymore in their own right). Because of all this, the standard line of thinking has been that, much like video killed the radio star, video on demand is eventually going to kill movie theaters.
You know what people who are given to cliches say though, “if you can’t beat them, join them,” so it turns out there’s a new service coming to Samsung smart TVs soon that might actually help out theater owners when it comes to convincing people to get off of their couches and into dark rooms full of people who chew loud and check their cell phones every two minutes. According to a report from Variety, Comcast’s ticketing service Fandango is about to be accessible on Samsung TVs for the first time ever.
The reason this is a development that might actually be able to drum up some new business for theater owners (and, you know, Fandango in the process) is that the service isn’t just going to appear on new TVs as a standalone app. Because, really, who would think to fire up their TV if their intention was to buy tickets to go see a movie, even if their new set made that an option? No, the deal here is that the “Movies & TV Shows” section of the Samsung Smart Hub menu in the company’s smart TVs will now have easy access to users’ Fandango accounts, so that if they happen to be watching movie trailers and come across something that they want to see, they can then get tickets to go see it with just the click of a few buttons.
Think about that. Even with the near unlimited quantity of movies available on all of the content platforms that are available on smart TVs today, how many times have you found yourself cycling through menus trying to find something to watch that was exactly the thing that you wanted to watch, right at that very moment? We film nerds are finicky sorts, and generally we’ve already seen everything we’re excited about by the time it hits VOD, so sometimes even endlessly scrolling lists of movies can start to look pretty sparse when it comes to legit programming choices. In those instances the “maybe I should just go to the theater and see something new” idea always starts itching away at the back of your head.
If buying a ticket to a movie and going to the theater was just as in your face as the option to stream something to your TV, might you take the theater ticket option, even if only to just get out of your house for a few minutes? I know I would, especially if I happened across a not-so-annoying trailer for something I hadn’t seen yet in the perusing process. If you want to get in people’s heads, you have to get to them where they live, which is their couches, so selling movie tickets through TVs could be a big coup for an industry whose future relies on capturing the attention of an increasingly lazy and anti-social audience.
Variety’s article about the new Fandango access also makes reference to the fact that new shopping apps will also soon allow people to buy products right from their Samsung TVs as ads air for them during the Super Bowl, which moves us yet another step closer to being those corpulent, featureless consumers who float around in hover chairs during the second half of Wall-E. It was bad enough already when our phones started to replace all of the stuff that we used to have to drive across town to do, but at least our phones are designed to be carried around by us as we move and do things. Now that it’s getting to the point where our TVs are doing everything that our phones do, there’s hardly going to be reason for us to ever get up and move across the room, let alone across an entire town.
Baking Fandango access right into people’s TVs could be a big help toward buying theater owners some time before their establishments become obsolete, but it could also be a double-edged sword that Fandango is wielding. Once we can just push a button on our TVs and have a drone fly a case of beer to our houses, how many of us are there going to be left who are still able to haul our bulk out to a theater or squeeze our asses into those tiny theater chairs? In the future we’re currently moving toward, going out to see a movie might soon be a logistical impossibility. Beware of too much convenience. Beware!