Big Screen Gets Bigger: Cinema Ad Firms Expand, Announce New Deals

Two major players in the growing cinema-advertising industry just announced new partnerships and acquisitions. The deals underscore the industry's growing dynamism. Overall, the Cinema Advertising Council (CAC) says total revenue grew 20.6% to $528 million from 2004 to 2005.

National CineMedia will show new programming from Discovery Communications as part of its pre-show ad pods. Previews of shows on the Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet and the Travel Channel will appear in FirstLook, a pre-show feature delivered digitally to about 11,000 movie screens at 1,000 theaters nationwide. According to NCM's figures, the Discovery preview content should be viewed about 500 million times by moviegoers.

As part of the deal, Discovery will also run short-form content on NCM's Lobby Entertainment Network (LEN), a collection of 1,700 video and HD plasma screen displays in the lobbies of various theaters. The first shows to be previewed on the big screen are "Planet Earth" and "Future Weapons." In light of CAC figures that show teens going to the movies twice a month on average, it's easy to discern the target audience.



Separately, Screenvision announced that it is buying the assets of Cinema Screen Media, boosting its national network to just under 15,000 movie screens. Cinema Screen Media was the previous owner of ad services contracts with a number of theater chains in the West and Midwest. Included in the deal are 26 theaters owned by Harkins Theatres in the Phoenix area, 40 theaters owned by Marcus Theatres in Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota, and 12 theaters owned by Classic Cinemas in the Chicago area.

"Each of these circuits adds strength to our network in the DMAs in which they compete," said Darryl Schaffer, executive vice president of exhibitor relations for Screenvision. "This agreement is of particular value in adding to our local advertising inventory in top DMAs and contributes to the national rollout of our digital network."

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