As content exits the premium video-on-demand window and enters the first pay window, it is typically removed from TVOD pricing (digital rental) on online stores. This blackout, as its known, can act for anywhere between one and two years, dependent on negotiations between the distributors, first window rights-holders and the stores themselves. This blog post looks at a sample of 2,000 titles which underwent a blackout in the first half of 2016, taken from Ampere's Analytics Service.
Blackout windows are typically at least one year long, reflecting the lowest typical first pay window licensing deals. The data collected suggests a strong correlation between the strength and size of the pay TV market and the average length of the blackout window - titles in markets such as the USA, UK and Japan, with relatively high ARPUs and large subscriber numbers, spend on average between a quarter and half a year longer before returning to online rental than titles in markets in lower ARPU markets such as France, Germany and the Netherlands. There is less of an obvious correlation with premium SVOD - while larger first run deals with major platforms such as Netflix and Amazon will obviously make an impact on blackout lengths, there is little sign of an impact anywhere outside of the USA.
Even within a specific market, there is often a large amount of variance in the strategies and negotiations of different studios, and particularly the larger studios. Taking the USA as an example, studios such as Warner Bros and Fox have shorter windows, in each case closer to a year, while Sony and NBC Universal more typically take 15 months. On the other hand, most Disney titles which were blacked out during the first half of 2016 were still not back during 2017 - suggesting a longer windowing timeframe of between one and a half to two years. Outside of the negotiating power of the major studios, there is more consistency across the independents and smaller studios, which generally broadly sit at around one and a half year windows. Finally, it is notable that even within individual companies, strategies vary considerably by territory - for example, in the UK both Fox and Warner Bros have considerably longer first windows, at around 65 to 70 weeks long.