Moviepass Preparing to Launch Unlimted Plan… Again?
March 17, 2019
Update 4:50PST: Moviepass has now taken down the staging site. The link in this post now redirects to their TOS page updated February 27th. We have no confirmation from Moviepass if the staging site is truly an indication of plans to launch a new unlimited plan or not. I have asked Mitch Lowe for comment he has not responded. Seems like they are likely considering a relaunch, why else would they have done the work on creating the new site and updated offerings.
It looks like Moviepass may be looking to resurrect their unlimited movie plan again. On a staging server found by an alert investor and posted on the stocktwits Moviepass board @ https://stocktwits.com/r/Moviepass1/ . Shows new staging site can be viewed at https://stg.moviepass.com/ the company appears to be preparing for another shot at providing “uncapped” movie going. <<updated – staging site has now been removed>>
On the site the company states. “Here’s the Deal: Go watch any 2D movie available in the app*Available at theaters everywhere save up to 50% off the regularly priced plan right now access to exclusive offers, red carpet events, and giveaways subscribe-only screenings and much much more”
It appears the company has a couple tricks up its sleeve here. One, they are asking for a year of cash upfront. They only accept ACH deposits for this, and to get the deal you have to pay a year upfront. Two, they clearly claim that users will be subject to their Terms of Service, and specifically call out term 2.5. This is where things get interesting. Here is what TOS 2.5 says.
Update: An alert reader pointed out that there will also be a credit card monthly option made available at $14.95 a month. He also pointed out that both E-check and ACH options look like they will be available. E-check is similar to automatic bill pay options used for many common bills these days. ACH is less desirable allowing access to your banking account. Moviepass is in a negative situation with credit card companies because they have had so many people use the card companies to cancel the service. This results in Moviepass being charged higher rates to use the service. There is also an issue of the payment processing company holding sufficient funds to pay for the tickets Moviepass buys on behalf of customers.
“2.5. MoviePass makes no guarantee on the availability to any particular theater, showtime, or title that is presented in our app. MoviePass ticket inventory may vary from specific theater ticket inventory. MoviePass reserves the right to adjust its inventory to maintain fair access and usage to its full customer base. MoviePass may utilize its proprietary data and algorithms to impose restrictions on individual users based on their location, day of movie, time of movie, title, and the individual user’s historical usage. This means that MoviePass has the right to limit the selection of movies and/or the times of available movies should your individual use adversely impact MoviePass’s system-wide capacity or the availability of the Service for other subscribers.”
It is well known by readers of this blog that I believe cheaters and hogs were a huge problem that ultimately helped to destroy the Moviepass offering. It seems somewhat reasonable that Moviepass could use algorithms to identify and restrict the biggest abusers. Ted Farnsworth has consistently stated that abuse of the service was one of the biggest problems.
This to me is not that different than what Wireless carriers and Broadband providers have done in the past. They advertise unlimited data, but for abusers, they limit or throttle back the service to ensure the network is available for all users. Broadband throttling is common practice in the industry and has been used for many years. It stands up to legal scrutiny and tends to only negatively impact a very small percentage of the user population. Without getting too esoteric on this. There is a big difference between throttling and capping. Capping means that a user would receive no more service after a certain amount of consumption was hit, throttling, means that the service works, but the user would just get a slower connection. Stretching this to Moviepass, I can see them using algo to slow consumption down to a crawl for very heavy users. We have seen how effective Moviepass can be at limiting service, the problem was they did it to way too many users when they ran out of money, and it basically killed the trustworthiness of the service. If they can limit with more precision, I believe they can cut the hogs down and make the service much more viable.
There are a lot of things that would have to happen to get this up and going at scale again for Moviepass. They likely need more funding and would need to really prove to the vast majority of consumers that they can provide reliable service to customers who show reasonable usage patterns. This all could also tie in nicely with Moviepass films original content, as they could provide those films a greater availability as it benefits them to do so.
If they do end up launching this new service, it would certainly bring another new chapter to Moviepass, the company that just refuses to die!
Finally, I should mention how silly it is that Moviepass has made their staging server publicly viewable. That is a rookie move, and it normally a simple edit to keep the site private at the URL level. It does show that Moviepass still has a looong way to go before they have any level of excellence in execution.