By Ciara Linnane, MarketWatch
MarketWatch photo illustration/iStockphoto, Getty Images
In the latest blow to Netflix Inc., AMC Theatres, the biggest cinema chain in the world, said Tuesday it is launching a streaming service that will allow members of its loyalty program to rent or buy films and watch them at home, the first such offering from a cinema operator.
The 20 million-plus U.S. households that have signed up to the company’s AMC Stubs program will be able to access about 2,000 films from every major studio, starting Tuesday. Later in the year the service is slated to be expanded to include films from AMC Networks’ /zigman2/quotes/202022116/composite AMCX +2.90% IFC Films and RLJE Films. AMC Theatres will promote AMC Networks’ targeted streaming services, marking the first crossplatform marketing between the companies. Those services include Acorn TV, Shudder, Sundance Now and UMC.
Customers can rent or buy films through the AMC Theatres /zigman2/quotes/200235402/composite AMC -0.89% mobile app, Roku /zigman2/quotes/205087179/composite ROKU -0.98% and smart TVs with more services and devices to be added in the future.
“With more than 20 million AMC Stubs households, and with our website and smartphone apps already being visited hundreds of millions of times annually by movie fans, AMC Theatres is in a unique position to promote specific movies with greater personalization than has ever been possible before,” AMC Theatres Chief Executive Adam Aron said in a statement.
AMC has agreements with every Hollywood studio to make select films available for rent or purchase, including new releases. Those will be made available after the traditional theatrical window set by studios has been observed. Consumers will be able to earn Stubs points that can be used for in-theater rewards.
AMC shares were last up 4.5%, while AMC Networks was up 0.6%.
The news is the latest threat to the dominance of Netflix /zigman2/quotes/202353025/composite NFLX +1.31% , which has seen its stock fall 23% in the past three months as it awaits an onslaught of new competitors in the streaming world. Apple Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL +0.48% and Walt Disney Co. /zigman2/quotes/203410047/composite DIS -1.31% are both set to debut streaming services in November; both are cheaper than Netflix’s offering.
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Netflix, scheduled to report its third-quarter earnings on Wednesday, is already in competition with Amazon.com Inc. /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN +0.32% and Roku Inc.
Imperial Capital analyst David Miller said the move will likely spur more loyalty from AMC’s Stubs members, and may help the company take market share from competitors.