Theater chains might be thinking about growing competitive online movie/TV services this way: If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em -- one movie at a time.
AMC Theaters, the largest movie-theater chain in the U.S., is launching an on-demand streaming video service.
AMC Theaters on Demand will be an online store with about 2,000 films available -- new releases to be added after a standard theatrical run. It is available to AMC Stubs members, a free loyalty plan with more than 20 million U.S. subscribers.
The service will let customers rent or buy movies in the same way Apple’s iTunes Store and Amazon has operated. In contrast to the all-you-can-watch monthly priced streaming video services, like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, consumers can buy/rent recently seen in-theaters films individually -- costing between $3 and $5.99 to rent, and $9.99 to $19.99 to purchase.
This will be a supplemental service to AMC’s in-theater monthly subscription service, starting at $19.95. AMC Stubs A-List has just under 1 million members.
Stubs A-List was started after AMC declined to be part of MoviePass.
MoviePass was an in-theater subscription service that dramatically lowered its price from $50/month to a $9.95-a-month plan, limited to one movie a day over a 30-day period.
But MoviePass had a difficult time making its business model work. At the time, analysts believed it was positioned to be competitive with other entertainment platforms, like Netflix.
The idea behind AMC Theaters on Demand is to bolster the chain’s main business venture: theater attendance. The company also wants to capitalize on its subscription of AMC Stubs A-List members.
All this may sound similar to what Walmart has done over the past few years with Vudu, a rental/purchase online service. Rental pricing ranges from $0.99 to $5.99, and purchase from $4.99 to $24.99.
While these are not direct competitors to Netflix, they are a different kind of service -- perhaps supplemental to subscription TV/movie platforms.
Does this give consumers more choice — or more confusion? Are they looking for a more recent top movie with a $6 rental price tag, while also subscribing to a $12.99/month Netflix plan for generally older movie titles?
For AMC Theaters, the decision is easy. Consumers are looking for lots of choice -- in-theater and online. Theater-chains -- especially thoe with the financial wherewithal -- have no choice but to experiment in finding ways to extend their businesses.