In the time since MoviePass dropped its monthly price to an attractively low rate last year, it has been dogged by questions of sustainability. After all, how could the service make money when it is subsidizing the cost of tickets for many subscribers and losing money on the subscribers who take full advantage of it? The service expects the average moviegoers who sign up to eventually offset the ones who go to see every movie. Regardless, it looks like the main way MoviePass plans on becoming profitable is by utilizing the wealth of data it gleans from its subscribers. One way the service intends to do that is by tracking the locations of its users.
MoviePass’s stated goal with location tracking is to create a full-featured, movie-going experience. When many consumers go out to the movies, they don’t simply go see a movie and then go home. Many people go to have dinner first and maybe drinks after or vice versa. You have to park somewhere when you get to the theater and you may go shopping afterwards. All of these movements provide valuable data for the theatergoing service. By tracking user locations, MoviePass told the Los Angeles Times it can suggest places to eat, park or shop and offer discounts or coupons for these things. MoviePass envisions this user-tracking and location-based marketing as a way to build an entire experience beyond just the movie. MoviePass can utilize this strategy to build partnerships and in-app advertising opportunities with various enterprises, which is where the service will really begin to make its money. MoviePass has stated that it will not be selling this customer data.
Obviously, privacy is a sensitive issue and there are going to be people out there who don’t like the idea of their locations being tracked. For those who are unfamiliar with the service and wonder why you don’t just disable the app’s tracking altogether, the MoviePass app and service need to know where you are to work. The service does not allow for you to purchase tickets online; instead, you have to go to the theater on the day of the showing. The app tracks that you are within a certain distance from the theater and then credits your account the amount necessary to purchase the tickets. Now I suppose once your tickets are purchased you may be able to disable the tracking feature, but I imagine that would get tedious and most people would forget.
The real question now is how many consumers this will actually bother. Being advertised to on a constant basis is an accepted fact of our modern, digitally connected society. MoviePass currently has over 2 million subscribers and is aiming to reach 5 million by the end of the year. Those subscribers will have to weigh regarding whether or not having your location tracked is a worthwhile tradeoff for the benefits MoviePass provides. For all the latest news on MoviePass and the brain chips we’ll all be sporting soon, stay tuned to CinemaBlend.