THE BLOG

Why EE Film Club Will Work

08/04/2015 14:00 BST | Updated 07/06/2015 10:59 BST

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Back in December, when EE announced that the end of Orange Wednesdays was imminent, the network tried to soften the blow by teasing a new promotion that would replace its decade-old campaign offering 2-4-1 cinema tickets.

So from the ashes of Orange Wednesdays has come EE Film Club - launched last week. For £1 (and the price of a text message) EE customers can get themselves a special code to rent a film on streaming service Wuaki.tv. No more trekking to the cinema, now EE users can watch blockbusters at home on their tablets, mobiles or any internet-enabled device.

But why the move from the silver screen to the computer screen? And why give up the obvious publicity and goodwill that Orange Wednesdays was generating? After all, since the news was announced we've heard much more about Meerkat Movies - the Compare the Market-sponsored replacement for Orange Wednesdays - than we have about EE Film Club.

Well, Orange Wednesdays was always intended, first and foremost, to attract phone users to the network. Ten years on from its launch, it's clear that cheap access to films online is more appealing than 2-4-1 cinema tickets. GWI's research in fact shows that one third of the UK's online adults watched a film online last month. Restrict this to 16-24s and the figures are dramatically higher - 60% of these young consumers are using the internet to watch movies.

That this youngest generation is at the very forefront of the move towards streaming can be in little doubt - from country to country, engagement figures for services such as Spotify or SoundCloud always peak among Millennials (and teens in particular).

Much of this streaming is happening on mobiles and tablets, EE's stock-in-trade. In fact, look at which online behaviours have made the biggest migration to portable devices and activities like music streaming typically come towards the top of the list. Film streaming remains somewhat less mobile-oriented - a result of some users being unwilling to watch a film on a mobile screen - but it's still 1 in 5 teens who are currently doing this. What's more, a quarter of tablet users watched a film online using their device last month.

Netflix is already serving a significant number of these film enthusiasts, with 4 in 10 online 16-24s watching the streaming service each month. Such figures show the competition that Wuaki faces but also the demand that now exists for online film.

Naturally, it's not all plain sailing. While large numbers of UK internet users might be accessing films online, it's still a minority who are paying for the privilege - just 1 in 8 have some form of monthly subscription, for example.

But the good news for online content providers like Wuaki is that these figures have been rising over the past few years and, perhaps most importantly, it's 16-34s that are the most likely to be paying. 1 in 5 are, suggesting this practice will increase in the future.

All this surely explains Wuaki's reasons for signing up with EE. While EE Film Club will help bring much needed revenue and publicity to Wuaki's new streaming service, it also goes a long way to normalising the idea of paying for online film rentals.

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