Friday, November 26, 2010

Dine In Movie Theaters - An interesting business model

There are some things that are universally loved by teenagers. Pizza, Ice Cream, A day without homework, and Movies. When my favorite movie theater closed for renovations several months back, I was extremely disappointed, especially since it would mean a summer of either not going to a theater, or finding a less preferable, further distant venue.

I knew they were renovating, but had no idea what was their intended outcome.

The theater that used to be my favorite has left me with something so much greater, but with a little disappointment as well. My theater is now an upscale dinner-movie experience. We were given a wonderful opportunity to see an "older movie" in a free screening to introduce people to this new concept. By "older movie" they meant movies that were no longer in the theaters, but not yet on DVD. I was not disappointed, because we chose "Inception", which I really enjoyed, just as much as the new dining format as well !

Here is a brief comparison to the "old style" theater and the "new" Dinner-movie experience.


Old: Popcorn, Big Candy Boxes, maybe hot dogs and nachos

New: FULL meal experience - Appetizers, Entrees, DESSERTS all delivered right to your seats.


Old: Sodas, Icee Frozen Beverages, Bottled Water

New: Sodas, Bottled Water, Full Bar including Wine, Beer, Top Shelf Mixed Drinks, and Coffee !


Old: Moderately comfortable, minimum reclining

New: WOW. Just as good as first class, very wide, with a button to call for service.


Old: Big, Great sound

New: Same.


Old: $10 per person

New: $15 per person (The seats are MUCH wider, much more comfortable)

Restrictions to entry:

Old: None, Really. If your parents felt safe dropping you off, you were allowed in.

New: Because of the Adult Beverages, No child under 18 without a parent or adult over 21. This last restriction makes me wonder how profitable the entire model will be - Parents can no longer drop off their 16 year old children to shop and then head to the movie theater. This will upset most teenagers -- a big piece of the Cinema business.

The overall cost of the food is approximately the same as a quality pub, TGIF, or Applebee's, but the food was fantastic.

For an average family of four, the entire experience will probably average around $100 - $125 for an evening, if not more, plus tip.

It is a fantastic experience, and I am sure it will be more difficult to be the first one to see the movie on opening day - far fewer seats and far greater demand "for the experience". My guess is that we'll start seeing many more people buying the tickets online to ensure their place in the theater, which will add even more profit due to the online ticket surcharge most theaters charge.

A quick survey around the country of this kind of movie theater has ticket prices varying considerably - from $7.50 per adult ticket in Aurora, Colorado to a whopping $27.00 per adult ticket in Redmond, Washington, EXCLUDING the cost of the food !

I can't say enough how awesome this concept is - I just hope it is sustainable for the business !

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Business of Game Shows

Recently, a 26-year old woman solved a Wheel of Fortune puzzle of seven words with just a single letter excluded. She won 53,000. It made me think about the entire business of Game Shows. Interestingly, there are no numbers or metrics that define the entire Game Show business - most of the information currently available points to the broader, more lucrative "60-Billion Dollar a year Gaming Industry" which includes video games, gaming systems, etc.

The business of Game Shows has a long history, dating back to the 1950's when televisions in homes crossed the "critical mass" of relevance in society. Television Game Shows have traditionally been a format where a network produces a game show which awards prizes to participants, and ultimately is created as an advertising vehicle for the network. Network Gameshows are able to give away prizes because they have advertisers willing to pay for time during the commercial breaks. The more successful game shows can charge more for their advertising time, ensuring their continued success.

As a child, I always imagined that game show contestants made a lot of money and could retire from it, but I now realize that many game shows gave away very little money, or nice prizes which weren't really "life-changing". One of the most successful game show contestants, however is a man named Ken Jennings who made most of his fortune on Jeopardy. Many of you might remember him as being the individual who had a 74-game winning streak on Jeopoardy.

Ken won approximately 2.5 million dollars during his 74-game winning streak.

Here are two charts - the first one is the longest running game shows in history, and the second is a list of the most successful Game Show Hosts in History.

The Top Game Shows and Longevity on the Air.

The Top Game Show Hosts and their Shows

Taxes on Prizes.

The game show contestant winners sometimes are faced with a dilemma as well. Since most game shows are taped in California, the tax code states that any winnings, either cash or prizes, are taxed as well. The original winner of "Survivor" - Richard Hatch - actually went to jail for not recognizing and following up on this fact.

Richard survived incredible torture to become the first winner of Survivor, and won $1 million dollars, but didn't realize he had to give around $400K of that money BACK to the government as taxes ! He unfortunately went to jail for this reason. If the snakes, alligators, and poisonous spiders don't get you, the Taxman will !

On an another note, Incidentally, my favorite Game Show is "Cash Cab!".

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Consultants, Coaches, and Teachers

This past weekend I experienced one of the most profound life-changing seminars I can imagine. I attended a 4-day seminar with a "Peak Performance Coach" (Tony Robbins!) who was able to evoke perhaps every single emotion a human is capable of within 4 days, while sharing some incredible wisdom.

While attending the seminar, aside from actually truly enjoying what I was learning, I was thinking about the actual "business" of coaching - whether it's someone who is a tennis coach, Performance Coach, or speech coach - and how it differs from other seemingly similar professions like Consulting and Teaching.

The similarities between Consulting and Coaching are:

- you generally have a set hourly rate

- you can purchase time in discrete units

- you do have differing tiers of expertise

- the best coaches can charge a lot more for their services

- generally you don't need certification but your ability to deliver results will be very relevant.

But then, what is the difference between a "coach", a "teacher", and a "consultant" ?

Here is what I've discovered:

Generally, it seems that a coach is much more "invested" in a student's success, where a teacher is a much more cut-and-dry professional function - though a very important one. I have been very lucky so far as a student with so many teachers who are also invested in the success of their students.

Any one of these, however, can be your "GURU"...


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