For many movies these days, the shortest route to the top of the charts is through the alphabet.
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Film studios have figured out that, all else being equal, it’s better for a movie to appear toward the top of the A-to-Z listings where people increasingly pick what they’re going to watch next.
“We call it alpha-stacking,” says Paul Bales of the Asylum, an independent studio that specializes in straight-to-video horror films. Last year, the company generated $16 million in revenue with movies that included Adopting Terror, Air Collision, Alien Origin, American Worships, and Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies.
It’s not just the Asylum playing this game. Here’s the distribution of video-on-demand movies available from Comcast’s cable television service Xfinity:
Bales is hardly bashful about the practice. “It’s not something we’re doing. It’s a choice the consumer is making,” he reasons. “Americans are lazy people. They can’t be bothered to go past ‘L.’”