Five on Friday: Movies, Mobile Apps and Money Moves

Featuring MoviePass, App Annie, Findaway, Regal Theatres and Klarna

Movies, mobile apps and money moves were all the talk this week. In this week’s Five on Friday, we discuss MoviePass potentially making a return after being bought back by a cofounder, App Annie shares 2022 global mobile market forecasts, and Spotify’s acquisition of Findaway. Regal Theatres is switching things up with their movie subscription service, and Klarna is looking to make quarterly and annual subscription payments more easily accessible.

MoviePass Could Make a Return

Much like movies that we loved in the 80s and 90s coming back for revivals and continuations, MoviePass could be making a return. You heard that right: MoviePass.

The movie subscription company started off with a bang, allowing users to subscribe to see movies once a day for as many times as they wanted per month. As they grew, they shifted their business plan more times than we could count. Prices changed, tiered pricing changed, they moved back to tiered pricing, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. 

In February of 2020, MoviePass filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy after amassing more than $60 million dollars in debt. This move dissolved their company, and they sold off assets to pay off their debts. In June of this year, they settled with the FTC over their deceptive practices. That was the last chapter of MoviePass, or so we thought.

Then, like Jason Vorhees and Michael Myers, they decided to come back for one more chapter: the sequel. Engadget reports that cofounder Stacy Spikes bought back the company and has plans to revive the movie subscription service. The interest of moviegoers helped Spikes want to revive the company.

Spikes told Business Insider, “We are thrilled to have it back and are exploring the possibility of relaunching soon.”

MoviePass was part of a Helios and Matheson bankruptcy auction in June 2020, but there were no bids placed at the time of auction. While MoviePass’ value was estimated to be between $1 million and $10 million, the minimum bid set by trustees was $250,000. Spikes has been working on getting money together since this summer, and details of the bid were not disclosed. Insider reports that the bid was lower than $250,000. Customer data was not a part of the sale.

With the potential relaunch of MoviePass, a new website has been launched, allowing someone to enter their email for a notification of when they are launching. With the launch of theatres’ own subscription plans, it is unsure how stable this will be until new details are launched.

Subscriptions like AMC A-List learned what to do and not to do in the wake of MoviePass’ initial fall. Cinemark and Regal also followed suit with their own subscription programs. CNBC speculates that they may have to face old challenges, as well as these new rivals. Like many remakes and additions to movie universes, this could go either way: universally loved, or universally rejected.

Image: Big Stock Photos

Regal Updates Their Subscription Service

Speaking of movie subscription services, Regal Theatres has updated their own subscription service, hoping to bring movie lovers back to the theatre. Previously, subscribers had to commit to an annual subscription, but Regal ditched that requirement. Users can now sign up with only a 90-day commitment with different pricing options. Variety reports that the three tiers will start at $18, and cap out at $23.50. The difference in price comes from the number of venues subscribers have access to watch movies.

Benefits will stay the same as the previous plan. Regal Unlimited offers subscribers an unlimited number of films monthly, as well as 10% off food and non-alcoholic drink purchases. It will also allow customers to earn credits for Regal’s loyalty program, the Regal Crown Club. Unlike MoviePass in the past, Regal Unlimited does not have blackout dates for their service. Regal’s services live within their app, and your card is at the tip of your fingers!

One downside to Regal’s subscription tier can be found in their FAQ for their movie subscription service. Theatres considered as “Restricted,” or out of a customer’s subscription tier, will face surcharges, and there may be a surcharge for premium seating. To avoid surcharges, Regal has provided a list of theatres that participate in the subscription plan. Areas in major metropolitan areas are in the Unlimited Plus category.

For perspective, AMC’s A-List subscription offers users three movies a week for a month, and no blackout days, resetting on Fridays. Price is determined by location, and they are currently offering a subscriber’s first month of A-List for $1. A-List members also get free size upgrades on fountain drinks and popcorn, priority lanes at the box office, waived ticketing fees, a birthday gift, and more.

Image courtesy of Regal Theatres

App Annie Makes Global Mobile Market Forecasts for 2022

These days, if your subscription service isn’t on mobile, you are missing some big opportunities. Always following the latest trends, App Annie recently published six global mobile market predictions for next year. Here are their top six predictions.

  1. TikTok will exceed 1.5 billion active users in 2022, competing with subscription services, like streaming video and audio, for screen time and attention.
  2. Next year, App Annie predicts that Pinterest and Temple Run 2 will reach 1 billion global downloads, bringing the total number of apps to hit a billion downloads to 22.
  3. App Annie reports that metaverse apps are growing in popularity. Annual spending on metaverse mobile games like ROBLOX and Minecraft will exceed $3.1 billion in 2022.
  4. The app experts at App Annie say that Gen Z will adopt fintech apps at 155% over 2020 adoption rates, creating a big opportunity for companies to reach out to the mobile-first generation as they grow toward financial independence from their parents.
  5. Entertainment apps are estimated to become a $12 billion market on mobile next year, double the market in 2020 and driven by in-app subscriptions. Streaming video will continue to be one of the fastest growing categories.
  6. The popularity of social apps like TikTok, Twitch and BIGO LIVE will grow to more than $9 billion on mobile next, an 82% increase over 2020.

Visit AppAnnie.com to download the full report, complete with details, graphs and insights for how to utilize this information to fuel your 2022 plans.

Klarna Expanding to Subscription Offerings

Buy Now, Pay Later is the latest craze in online shopping. Why pay $100 now, when you can pay in four $25 interest-free installments? Services like Klarna on capitalizing on the attractive trend, just in time for holiday shopping. But wait, there’s more! Klarna has announced they are allowing consumers to use their service to pay for subscriptions! They currently have over 250,000 retail partners, including IKEA, Peloton, Nike, and more.

This offering would allow consumers a more convenient way to pay for quarterly or annual subscriptions, memberships, and more, Klarna said in a press release. This is an extension of their current subscription offerings across global markets. They currently offer subscription products in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany, the UK and the Netherlands. They plan to expand this offering in 2022.

Pay in four-type financial institutions have grown in the last few years. Afterpay, Affirm and Klarna are the three biggest names in the Pay in 4 market. Affirm recently partnered with Amazon to allow consumers easier access to more expensive items, and their stocks soared. If you aren’t familiar with the Pay in 4 approach, once a purchase is made, the user pays 25% of the purchase price up front and follows up with three additional payments of equal amounts every two weeks until paid. The payments are automatically charged to the user’s preferred form of payment (e.g., debit or credit card).

This tool comes as the first in its country to help consumers manage a quarterly or annual subscription in a more affordable way. Users will be able to track and manage their payments through the Klarna app, so they are able to see how much they owe at any given moment. The app will also offer consumers exclusive offers, delivery tracking, as well as payment management.

Insider Intelligence reports that three-quarters of companies will offer subscription services for direct-to-consumer offerings by 2023, PYMNTS says. This means Klarna is just getting ahead of the curve.

The head of the North American division of Klarna, David Sykes said, “The subscriptions market has seen massive innovation in the last decade to meet increased demand and popularity amongst customers. As competition intensifies, the brands that provide the best services across value, flexibility and a customer-obsessed experience will thrive.”

Image courtesy of Klarna

Spotify Branches Out to Audiobooks

Spotify’s desire to expand past music is ever-growing. They have mastered the art of the podcast, and are currently the top dog in podcasting, TechCrunch reports. Now, they have another form of media they want to take on: audiobooks.

Image courtesy of Findaway

With the rise of bookstagram and BookTok almost everywhere you look, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Afterall, Netflix has a book club now, so why couldn’t Spotify? Spotify is trying to get their piece of every pie, and it could work out well for them. Last week, they acquired audiobook distributor Findaway, TechCrunch reports. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, and it is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2021 after they receive regulatory approval.

Findaway was founded in 2004; the company hopes to bring audiobooks to listeners worldwide. Findaway markets themselves as a multi-product, multi-brand company. Brands include AudioEngine, which allows retailers and libraries to deliver digital audiobooks worldwide, Findaway Voices, the world’s largest network of audiobook sellers, and Audioworks, who creates audio for top publishers and best-selling authors. This acquisition is huge for both Findaway and Spotify.

In a press release, Findaway stated they would maintain their headquarters in Solon, Ohio, and would also continue to be led by the founder and CEO of Findaway, Mitch Kroll. Mitch would report to the Head of Audiobooks at Spotify.

Spotify’s Chief Research & Development Officer said, “It is Spotify’s ambition to be the destination for all things audio both for listeners and creators. The acquisition of Findaway will accelerate Spotify’s presence in the audiobook space and will help us more quickly reach that ambition.”

The Spotify team is focusing on innovation in the space to make audiobooks a richer experience, as well as the democratization of audiobooks, allowing more people to create and publish audiobooks. Spotify also wants to work on audiobook discovery, like it has done with music and podcasts, The Verge reports.

Storytel has also partnered with Spotify to allow audiobooks on the streaming service, by linking their Storytel account to their Spotify. Storytel offers more than 500,000 audiobooks on a global basis, Spotify said in a May press release.

The core Spotify app will likely gain more audiobooks in early 2022, and will open more revenue portals for the audio-streaming app.