In August last year, MoviePass introduced a new deal that looked too good to be true. You could go to the movies every day and only pay $9.95 per month. Now it turns out, that deal really was too good.
From day one, the sub-$10 subscription didn’t seem to add up as movie theaters were still demanding full price for their tickets. Someone going to watch a movie every day was therefore costing MoviePass a small fortune. Then in January, MoviePass stopped working at several AMC theaters without warning.
Now it is becoming clear why MoviePass is being offered for such a low price: it isn’t about generating money from subscribers, it’s about collecting as much data about them as possible. If you’re a subscriber, you’re being tracked, and not just when you visit a theater.
As TechCrunch reports, MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe recently gave a talk at the Entertainment Finance Forum entitled “Data is the New Oil: How will MoviePass Monetize It?” During the talk Lowe explains how MoviePass collects “an enormous amount of information” about its subscribers. Stating, “We watch how you drive from home to the movies. We watch where you go afterwards.”
Rather than simply collecting information relating to your movie theater visits and viewing habits, the tracking and data grab seems to be much wider. When asked for more details about this tracking, MoviePass responded to TechCrunch by stating, “We are exploring utilizing location-based marketing as a way to help enhance the overall experience by creating more opportunities for our subscribers to enjoy all the various elements of a good movie night.”
It was also made clear the data collected will not be sold, but instead used to “better inform” so MoviePass can make other offers to subscribers relating to transport, food, etc. It seems likely subscribers will be increasingly bombarded with very tailored offers the longer they remain MoviePass customers.
Media Play News points out that MoviePass is expecting to reach 5 million subscribers before the end of 2018 and account for 20 percent of movie ticket purchases. Right now there are 2 million subscribers and only 6 percent of sales. Even so, that’s a lot of tracking and data collection, and I’m sure most subscribers have no idea what the real cost of this cheap subscription is.
For Lowe’s take on how the subscription works as a business proposition, check out the video interview he recently gave to ScreenJunkies.