Online Festivals Soar, Omicron Surges, and Sundance goes Full Stream Ahead

Online Festivals Soar, Omicron Surges, and Sundance goes Full Stream Ahead GlobeNewswire January 13, 2022

HAMILTON, New Zealand, Jan. 13, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- With Omicron cases surging to record highs, Shift72 is seeing an influx in enquiries from global film festivals who are seeking – or continuing to adapt to - alternative formats to deliver their brand of cinema to a locked-in world.

On January 5, 2022, Sundance Film Festival cancelled its in-person program. Instead, this month’s festival will be streamed fully online. An early pioneer of the online film festival experience, Sundance already prepared a 2022 digital offering. By going exclusively online, Sundance can continue to provide world premieres and independent films to captive audiences around the country.

“Omicron is causing a massive surge of interest in online platforms,” says David White, Founder and CEO of Shift72. “Festivals launching in the next 90 days are scrambling to find an online alternative to an in-person festival that may be at risk of low attendance or cancellation due to emerging variants.”

Since Covid emerged in 2020, one in seven of the world’s 10,000 film festivals – and two thirds of the world’s top 15 film festivals including Sundance, Festival De Cannes and New York Film Festival (NYFF) – have expanded to include a virtual offering. Though Covid may have been the catalyst to change, many are seeing the business and artistic exposure benefits that come with it.

"A lot of us went from being these large regional festivals to connecting with people all over North America,” says Matthew Bolish, Senior Director of Operations & Production at Film at Lincoln Center (NYFF). “What really was happening is that people who had been following our programs for years, but could never come to the theatres, were able to engage with our programs, our filmmakers, and even our programmers through a virtual offering."

Cinema has evolved since the first 72-seat theatre opened 125 years ago. Covid isn’t the catalyst to the current change, but rather the accelerant that is forcing global festivals, including the Shift72-powered Sundance, Mumbai Film Festival, and Taipei Golden Horse, to adapt their experiences to cater to an at-home audience in a market saturated with content on demand.

“Competition for screen time, relevance, experience, convenience, and loyalty is now more important than ever as alternatives are abundant,” says White. “We’re fortunate to be in a position where we can rapidly insure a festival against risk of shut down while providing brands the opportunity to connect their content to customers and e-commerce through video on demand.”

About Shift72
Shift72 is one of the world’s fastest growing video on demand (VOD) entertainment platforms. Trusted by the biggest names in the industry, our platform is the white labelled secure bridge that rapidly delivers the theatre and event entertainment experience - complete with content offerings from the world’s biggest studios - to your audiences’ homes.

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Damian Bartolomucci
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