Movie Pass is Being Billed as the Offline Netflix

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It's no secret that Reed Hastings had a great idea when he came up with Netflix. The idea of a monthly subscription service for movie rentals, without late fees changed the way that we all access entertainment. Even for those who aren't Netflix subscribers, the concept has touched every industry, especially sales. Although the idea of a subscription based service isn't exactly a new one, Netflix helped breath new life into the old models.

If you're over 25, you probably remember the old style music subscription services like Columbia House or the Book of the Month Club. Typically, they gave away free items when you first sign up and then you agree to purchase a certain amount over a predetermined period of time. These subscription clubs were popular and worked well, although the problem was that if the customer didn't return a card opting out, they were sent (and billed for) an automatic selection. It was a great service, but there was a catch.

When Netflix was first introduced, it was difficult to believe that there wasn't really a "catch" in the same way that customers had been used to. Instead, they paid a monthly fee and were sent DVDs right to their mailboxes. It worked well and customers were extremely happy. Although Netflix has had some bad publicity and made some missteps in the past year or so, their business model is still influencing other companies.

For example, now there are shoe retailers that offer a shoe subscription. Websites like JustFab allow customers to join their club and get shoes for cheap. There are also websites like Bag,Borrow or Steal that let customers rent designer handbags or RenttheRunway where customers can rent clothes, all for a small monthly fee. It's a business plan that seem to work and it's catching on.

Another change caused, in part, by Netflix is the decline in the number of people who go to a movie theater. Over the past few years, movie theaters have been having a tough time getting people into the theater. In spite of offering more 3D and IMAX options, people still aren't lining up to buy tickets. There are a couple of reasons why. For one, ticket prices have been rising and a trip to the movies isn't as affordable as it once was. Secondly, once the tickets are purchased, there's still the overpriced popcorn and sodas. For a family of four, it can cost almost $100 to go to the movies. The expense makes it much more tempting to spend a night at home with a movie from Netflix.

Now, Movie Pass wants to change all of that. By using the Netflix subscription plan as a model, they are offering unlimited movies for a $50 monthly fee. That's right, for the $50, customers can go to the movies for free, once a day. In fact, to make things simple, Movie Pass allows you to search for a movie right from the website (with a smartphone app in the works), find a participating theater and book your seat.

The all-you-can-watch model has the potential to really change things for the movie industry. Although Movie Pass does have a few limitations, like charging $3.00 extra if you want to watch a 3D or IMAX movie, anything that gets more people into theaters is going to make a difference for theater owners.

Right now, Movie Pass is only being offered in the San Francisco Bay area but there are plans to roll it out across the nation soon. The idea is a great one, but I think that it's really only going to appeal to young, single people who live in larger cities or metro areas. For couples or families, having a subscription for each person just isn't cost effective. However, I can see how having a service like Movie Pass can make dinner and a movie a good date choice, especially if both people are subscribers.

Whether Movie Pass becomes a huge success or fizzles out before reaching all markets, it's definitely a creative idea. When companies think outside of the box and look for new ways to challenge old business models, they can often come up with something that can change the way the industry works and thinks.

What do you think? Are you more likely to use a subscription based service rather than buy tickets when you need them? Why or why not? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Image courtesy of MoviePass.


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