MoviePass has hired its first ever chief marketing officer in Natasha Mulla, formerly of Mashable. She is tasked with helping scale the service in key markets as the company chases profitability through the sale of subscriber data.
The movie subscription service costs just $9 a month in the United States – in some regions less than the price of a single ticket. For this, subscribers can redeem a cinema ticket every day although limited movie stocks will temper this behavior.
Recently passing the 1.5m subscriber milestone, the company is using its capital to subsidise the price of movie tickets – which it currently buys at face value from cinemas. The viewing habit data it gathers from users will be valuable to studios and advertisers, it believes. There is a challenge, to build a comprehensive product it has to scale rapidly, so far it has succeeded in this effort.
Mulla has come in to catalyse the growth efforts, while also working to improve the user experience. She comes from Mashable, a digital publisher that was sold to Ziff Davis for $50m, a fifth of its peak valuation just a year earlier as its revenues failed to meet projections.
Speaking to The Drum, she said she learned “about the value of creating a premium brand with a trusted audience”. She said: “As a global media and entertainment company that lived across so many platforms it was important to ensure that Mashable's core brand identity was always true to form to keep our audience excited and engaged.”
Mulla hopes for a similar relationship with MoviePass’ subscribers
The company claims it can help boost movie attendances, however, its economic model is based upon users not exploiting access to daily cinema tickets for their $9 ticket – often cheaper than the price of a single ticket. Limited stock in theatres will help temper this behavior.
MoviePass dropped its price in August 2017 to $6.95 – if subscribers opted in for a year. This move which helped it enjoy “amazing success with organic growth” said Mulla who will implement marketing strategies to push this forward although it was too early for her to share any rudimentary strategy.
There are some cons about the service, there’s no pre-booking, tickets are bought on site, risking venues selling out at high-demand showings. Furthermore, there is only access to 2D showings.
On why she made the jump from Mashable to MoviePass Mulla admits that she was drawn as a movie lover, but as a marketer, she was excited by how quickly the disruptive service was growing. “First and foremost, it's a great brand with an exciting and unique proposition. The leadership team also is very strong and creative.”
It is a difficult time for cinema, although outlets are adapting. Earlier this month The Drum spoke to Vue, Imax and DCM about the tech and customer service innovations that could ensure a prosperous future for the big screen.
On viewing habits, Mulla said: “The way people are consuming movies is constantly evolving and changing, and streaming services are affecting movie theater attendance in big way. The industry needs to adapt and adjust to meet consumer expectations. MoviePass knows that people still want to go to the movies, and we want to make this experience more accessible.”
According to Mulla, the MoviePass brand already has a lot of fans although she admitted there “are also a lot of skeptics out there who are unsure of the model and how it will work”.
Time will tell whether Mulla’s efforts convince them that the data is as valuable to brands, advertisers and studios as is being touted.