We were all waiting for the other shoe to drop on the super cheap, all-you-can-watch movie service, and it finally has. In a recent presentation, MoviePass CEO admitted that the app tracks your location before and after you see movies—something that wasn’t clearly disclosed before millions of people signed up for the service.
According to Media Play News, MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe had some interesting things to say during his Hollywood presentation that took place late last week, entitled “New Oil: How Will MoviePass Monetize It?” Most notably, he openly admitted that his app tracks people’s location, even when they’re not actively using the app:
“We get an enormous amount of information… We know all about. We watch how you drive from home to the movies. We watch where you go afterwards.”
Lowe also commented on how they knew subscribers’ addresses, their demographics, and how they can track subs via the app and the phone’s GPS. This drew nervous laughter from the crowd—many of whom were MoviePass subscribers themselves—but Lowe assured them that this collecting of tracking data fits into their long-term revenue plan. He explained that their vision is to “build a night at the movies,” with MoviePass eventually directing subscribers to places to eat before movies, and places to grab drinks afterward (all for a cut from the vendors).
These tracking policies may be more thoroughly explained to users elsewhere, but nobody is able to find anything that describes the type of tracking being suggested by Lowe in his statements. Perhaps he was exaggerating? Or talking about future plans? Unlikely. In a statement to TechCrunch, a MoviePass representative basically confirmed the tracking when asked about it, saying:
We are exploring utilizing location-based marketing as a way to help enhance the overall experience by creating more opportunities for our subscribers to enjoy all the various elements of a good movie night. We will not be selling the data that we gather. Rather, we will use it to better inform how to market potential customer benefits including discounts on transportation, coupons for nearby restaurants, and other similar opportunities.
MoviePass issued a similar statement to The Verge, adding that it’s part of their vision to “build a complete night out at the movies,” and that their larger goal is to “deliver a complete moviegoing experience at a price anyone can afford and everyone can enjoy.”
At the end of the day, this is yet another question mark added to the “Is MoviePass too good to be true?” question we’ve all been wondering. Hopefully, MoviePass can clear the air soon and give us a better explanation of what’s going on with user location data and why. It would be nice to know what location information is being collected, when it starts tracking users, how long it tracks users after they see a movie, as well as if there’s a way to opt out of that type of location tracking. We’ll update as soon as we learn more.