Moviepass: When Buffet-Style Service Loses Out to One-Time Purchases

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We live in an all-you-can-consume era. Amazon is a great example of this, with its Kindle Unlimited and Music Unlimited services. Rather than pay for books or music a la carte, you pay a subscription fee to get as much as you can read or listen to.

And yet, in the movie industry, this buffet-style offering doesn’t seem to be working as well.

Take MoviePass. The subscription service offers users the opportunity to see one standard 2D movie every day a month for just $9.95. That cost is less than one single movie at many theaters! And yet, the data we analyzed indicates that this model may not be working.

Digging into the Data

We used to Jumpshot data to analyze subscriptions to MoviePass to online ticket purchases on AMC, Fandango, and Movietickets.com from August 2017 through the beginning of 2018. What we found indicated that people are still buying movie tickets the “traditional” way (if traditional means buying tickets online).

Though Moviepass claims to have 1.5 million subscribers now, these figures pale in comparison to online bookings on tickets sites like AMC or Fandango.

 

In fact, online bookings on mobile devices for ticket sites show major spikes during the weekend period from Friday-Sunday, which shows the ease of booking on the mobile device while on the go is a convenience many moviegoers take advantage of. The chart above reflects the fact that major releases (like Thor: Ragnorok on November 3, Justice League on November 17 and Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi on December 15) drove huge increases to ticket sales sites, but had no effect on subscriptions to Moviepass.

This a-la-carte preference of moviegoers is reinforced by the fact that AMC and Fandango also drive the majority of their conversions (more than 70%) through mobile traffic. Moviepass, which requires more planning ahead, has a much more even split of mobile and desktop subscriptions.

 

So Why Not Take Advantage of $.33 Movies?

Being able to see a movie for under a dollar (assuming you went every day) seems a huge perk for movie aficionados, so why doesn’t the data support that?

MoviePass dropped its monthly subscription price from $40 to $9.95 last year, and briefly dropped it to under $7 this year. Its continual price lowering indicates that the company is struggling to find its sweet spot. How can theaters make any money with prices that low?

Subscribers save more if they invest in the annual plan, but many are hesitant for a variety of reasons. First, there are a few limitations, like not being able to buy tickets more than one day in advance and having to be at the theater to make a ticket purchase. For those who love watching movies in 3D and other souped-up experiences, those don’t come with the pass.

The Better Business Bureau has given MoviePass an F rating for customer service, which is another reason many may hesitate before entering into a year-long relationship with the brand. Other people express concern that the company may not be in business long enough for them to realize the value of a 12-month subscription.

Whatever the reason that numbers of MoviePass subscriptions don’t outweigh buying tickets one at a time, it’s interesting to see that, while you might assume that an all-you-can-consume service might win out, that’s not always the case.

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