National CineMedia Up for Deals With Screenvision, NFL

CEO Kurt Hall also predicts that 3D ad revenue will double this year.


NEW YORK -- National CineMedia chairman and CEO Kurt Hall reiterated here Thursday that he would love to do deals with competitor Screenvision and content powerhouse NFL.

National CineMedia sells in-theater advertising and distributes pre-show programming and live events.

Asked at an investor conference about an often rumored merger or acquisition of Screenvision, Hall reiterated that he sure would like to do a deal if it added to his firm's earnings. He said he knows new Screenvision CEO Travis Reid "really well," but isn't sure if Screenvision's owners want to sell.

Observers have also said a combination would likely raise concentration concerns.

Hall also told investors Thursday that the growing reach of 3D-enabled screens provides an opportunity for movie theaters to potentially offer more high-profile live events and alternative content in deals with the likes of the NFL.

Speaking at the Gabelli & Co. Movie & Entertainment Conference, he said his company can have "more meaningful" conversations with big names like the NFL, but he didn't provide a possible time line. He cited success with last year's offer of soccer World Cup games.

Theater owners may for the first time have "a bit of a jump on TV" given that "3D television will be a while," he argued. Hall predicted it will take viewing without 3D glasses to make 3D TV take off, and that could be five to 10 years away.

Discussing 3D ads in movie theaters, Hall said they command premium prices that are 50 percent to 100 percent above regular prices, which means higher margins. And 3D ad revenue will keep growing, but growth will take more time as creatives slowly become acquainted with 3D, he said.

For this year, he predicted National CineMedia will see twice as much 3D ad revenue as last year, but emphasized it is still "a small number."