Money Matters: MoviePass a hit or miss?

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$10 per month to watch any movie – every movie – you want, in the theater?

It sounded too good to be true, and it may have been, as movie ticket subscription service MoviePass continues to struggle.

For members, is it worth holding on? Is there a better alternative for cinema fans? How can such a subscription program work, anyway?

For consumer reporters interested in covering a subscription services story, here’s what you need to know and consider.

Just as it can be hard to eat your moneys’ worth at a buffet, if everyone who is a paying member of your gym showed up there to workout (and burn off those buffet dinners) every morning, you might have trouble finding a free treadmill.  “Unlimited” subscriptions can work for a business when subscribers’ behavior means the cost of their actual use of the service is less than the cost of the subscription – or if the business has other means to earn revenue, as MoviePass claimed.

But as the company has struggled to have the cash to pay theaters for its subscribers’ movie tickets, it has placed restrictions on the previously “unlimited” deal. Now subscribers are:

  • Not allowed to use MoviePass to see the same movie more than once.
  • Limited in the number of movies per month.
  • Restricted on which movies and when are available.

So while the service seemed like a great deal when it started, is it such a great deal now?

Here are some other questions consumer reporters can ask about this and other subscription services to help consumers make informed decisions:

  • What is the process to pause or cancel the subscription?
  • Could the terms of the subscription change unexpectedly?
  • Is it actually saving you money, or will you end up paying for more of something you don’t use?
  • Are there other services offering similar benefits to choose from?  

Weekly Money Matters personal finance content for your newsroom is sponsored by the National Endowment for Financial Education