Analyst Predicts Declines in TV Viewing, Movie Attendance in 2012

Empty Movie Theater - Generic Image - 2011
Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images

BTIG's Richard Greenfield also expects success for Netflix's original programming push, video subscription offers from YouTube and deals involving Starz and AMC Networks.

NEW YORK - The biggest movie of 2012 will be Warner Bros. release Dark Knight Rises, while the biggest box office disappointment will be Disney’s John Carter, BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield predicted in a blog post on Tuesday. 

He also called NBC's Smash the most important TV show of the year.  "Heads will start rolling at Comcast’s NBC division," if it fails, he predicted.

In terms of entertainment industry deals, Greenfield expects that AMC Networks will be sold this year, a notion that other  analysts have also
voiced, and he sees Liberty Media spinning off or selling Starz.

But the analyst expects pressure on traditional TV consumption and movie theater attendance to be among 12 key trends of 2012.
"We believe 2012 will be a watershed year for the media industry and serve as a historic inflection point for traditional TV consumption," Greenfield wrote. "While TV viewing has consistently risen as choice (channels) and access (VCR/DVR) expanded, we believe consumers have reached a breaking point. There are simply not enough hours in the day for online activities to be purely incremental."

Greenfield reiterated his previous forecast that a company like Dish Network or Verizon could launch a virtual multi-channel video programming distributors as an alternative to location-based cable operators and satellite TV service that requires an expensive installation process.

Movie-going is also "less and less compelling," meaning that attendance will remain in secular decline, he argued. "3D, IMAX, XD - are they really worth the extra money? Maybe for a one or two movies a year, but Hollywood is increasingly looking to premium exhibition formats as the solution to falling top-line revenues (as home entertainment profits drop)," he wrote. "Unfortunately, bad movies at premium prices are still bad movies and end up alienating your best customers."

Digital video platforms could benefit though as Greenfield predicts that Google’s YouTube will increases its video spending 10-fold and enable some subscription offerings, while will launch a stand-alone subscription video streaming service, and Facebook will become a video platform.

Among his other predictions for 2012: Netflix will redefine its image with original programming successes. "We expect Netflix’s push into original programming to be a positive surprise for investors in 2012 and expect it to create a new form of “buzz” around the Netflix brand that has been missing since the serious missteps of the third quarter 2011," Greenfield predicted.


Twitter: @georgszalai