MoviePass parent Helios and Matheson Analytics (NASDAQOTH:HMNY) is about to give investors another splitting headache, but it's not the only thing weighing on the mind of the once disruptive multiplex subscription service. AMC Entertainment (NYSE:AMC) and Sinemia are making waves this week, enhancing their platforms in ways that will make it harder for MoviePass to retain its slipping relevance.
AMC is making its nascent movie subscription service easier to get to you, teaming up with online ticketing giant Fandango and social ticketing specialist Atom Tickets to allow folks to book AMC Stubs A-List screenings through either platform. Sinemia is going for the jugular, rolling out a new plan that offers daily viewings -- just the way MoviePass used to before its coffers started to run dry this summer.
Filling the void
Sinemia's new plan offers subscribers the ability to see a single movie a day, but it's different from the original MoviePass in terms of pricing. Sinemia sets filmgoers back $29.99 a month. MoviePass, in contrast, turned heads last summer at $9.95 a month, an aggressive price that helped it grow to 3.2 million subscribers when it peaked last month. But that growth came at a dear price. Helios and Matheson ran out of financing to keep its service running at that ridiculous price point.
Sinemia's new plan isn't just three times as expensive as MoviePass. Its price is billed annually. Folks wanting to pay month-by-month pay a $29.99 initiation fee. Sinemia also charges a modest transaction fee of $1.50 for every ticket purchased, something that may slow down some of the more active members that can bleed a company dry. On top of that, the company has plans priced as low as $4.99 that limit the number of movies one can catch.
MoviePass learned its lesson too late. It was selling dollars for quarters, a model that wasn't going to be sustainable over the long haul for a company with limited financing. One can argue that it would never have grown to more than 3 million subscribers in less than a year at the price points of AMC Stubs A-List or Sinemia, but now that its model is imploding, the climate is ripe for AMC Stubs A-List at $19.95 -- coincidentally the stock's closing price on Monday -- and Sinemia's unlimited feast at $29.99 to clean house. Helios and Matheson's bold pricing move last summer created the market for movie subscription services, and now it's not able to enjoy the spoils of the movement it started.
This isn't necessarily the end for MoviePass. It will never have the cost advantage AMC has, but there's no reason it can't compete against Sinemia at those elevated price points. Anything's possible if it can buy itself more time and stop the subscriber defections, but right now it's losing on both fronts. MoviePass is reeling, and everyone else is sensing an opportunity to be the new king of the multiplex subscription hill.