Posted in Opinion, Tech

MoviePass – Red Flags Are Rising

Not too long ago MoviePass started a too good to be true plan. See one movie a day for $10 a month. The way it worked is they send you a MasterCard and you swipe it as your payment after you check into the movie. It took forever to get the card mailed to you, but once you had it the possibilities felt endless. The ability to see a movie on your own time then go see it again with a friend essentially for free was awesome. This not only increased the number of times I went to the theater from approximately once every three to four months to two to three times a month. Since I wasn’t paying for tickets, I found myself spending more money at the concession stands. There’s no doubt in my mind that this new subscription service was a benefit for both the movie theater and myself.

With ticket prices in my area ranging between $8.75 and $10.75 purchasing nor than one ticket in a month becomes a cost for MoviePass. MoviePass pays full price for tickets. When you check in, the cost of the ticket is transferred to your MoviePass MasterCard to use as your payment method. With people going as far as seeing a movie a day for the month to get the most out of their money, it became quickly obvious that MoviePass needed to start looking at changes in their process. This is where red flags started to show up.

Red flag number one – MoviePass introduces a change to pricing. New members would have to pay for a year up front. The monthly payment option went away. This really wasn’t that big of a deal in the beginning. Most people wouldn’t put a second thought to this since it is common practice for many subscription services.

Red flag number two – MoviePass starts a store for MoviePass merchandise. This was the typical stuff. T-shirts, hoodies, mugs, all carrying the MoviePass logo. This was a little outside of the typical business than MoviePass typically competes in. This did cause me to raise an eyebrow.

Red flag number three – MoviePass makes adjustments to what your subscription really means. MoviePass starts to limit the number of times you can go see a movie to one time.  This starts to become a big deal to me. I’m happy to go see a movie by myself  and then see it later with friends. This has an impact on my process and has me to start looking around at other options.

Red flag number four – MoviePass starts adding surging pricing for “popular movies” and “popular times”. The definition of these groups of words seem to be unclear, so i’ll define what I’ve found so far monitoring the situation. Popular movies – These seem to be any movie that hasn’t been out for a month or more that isn’t advertising through MoviePass. As for popular times, I originally thought essentially any time out side of typical work hours, but I’ve found that the middle of the day on Wednesday seems to qualify for popular times. This really felt like a final straw but I decided to feel out pricing. Initially I found that movies came with an extra fee of $2.55. This is a quarter of the subscription price so it would make me flinch at a ticket purchase but its not so bad. Over this weekend, surging prices have ranged from $3.50 to $6.00. This  comes to over half the subscription price. If I were to go see Teen Titans Go To The Movies, and that was the only movie I went to see this month, that ticket would cost me $16.00. With two kids, I don’t get to go see movies as often as I would like. This was part of the appeal of MoviePass. Going to a single movie essentially covered my cost.

Red flag number five – MoviePass stops processing payments. MoviePass has to borrow five million to cover expenses to get their services running again the next day. This appears to be the coming to the end for the too good to be true service.

With over three million subscribers, MoviePass should be able to leverage these numbers to broker cheaper ticket prices and possibly even offer location based advertisements. MoviePass seems dead set on avoiding raising prices on their base fees even though this seems to be one of the few ways they are going to actually be able to maintain this service.

moviepass and AMC.png

AMC has decided to step into the subscription theater movie market. AMC is offering 3 movies a week with the additional discounts of their stubs service for $20.00 a month. Unlike MoviePass, this is limited to just AMC theaters. Unlike MoviePass, AMC’s option allows for 3D and IMAX movies. MoviePass took to Twitter to make fun of this service, but with what’s going on today with MoviePass, a stable $20.00 vs a minimum $13.50 with easy potential to grow pass $20.00, AMC sounds like a much better option.

moviepass twitter AMC response

I can tell you that MoviePass’ access to my credit card isn’t long for this world, but that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone should jump ship. What do you think? let me know in the comments below.

Posted in Opinion, Tech

The New TV

Congratulations everyone, we did it! We’ve managed to move TV from this horribly managed service that we have to buy from a select few options of providers to multiple options from multiple high profile providers.

In the middle of the revolution, we also found something new. The streaming giant Netflix decided to produce their own show. For most people, the subscription to Netflix already existed so this was just icing on the cake, but it did draw in additional subscribers to see what all their friends were talking about. Hulu quickly followed suit, creating their own original series attracting a lot of attention to the two streaming giants.

Following the success of this something new happened. CBS announced their new streaming service CBS All Access. This service offered subscribers access to current and back catalog episodes and shows. This service was different from what we saw from Hulu and Netflix. It only involved CBS programming where the prior had agreements with multiple networks. It also offered live streaming of your local CBS channel. This was met with a lot doubt due to the limited scope. What CBS did to counter this was also questionable at the time – they launched an original Star Trek series exclusively to the network. This turned out to be a no-brainer. Take your biggest asset, lock it behind a pay fence and profit.

Unfortunately, the world was watching. In the past year since the launch of CBS All Access both Disney and DC have announced their own streaming services. Disney has announced their unnamed streaming service which will launch in 2019 with the end of their agreement with Netflix for streaming their product. DC has announced DC Universe which will be a streaming service mixed with a comic book collection subscription service. Both are using the CBS playbook to anchor their service. Disney will be bringing back the Clone Wars animated series exclusively to their unnamed streaming service and DC has Doubled down on Dick Grayson bringing the new live action series Titans (based on the Teen Titans characters) and Young Justice season 3.

The migration of distribution feels like a double edged sword to me. On the one hand, this is really great for getting things we want but haven’t been able to convince networks that they should carry. I know there have been plenty of fans who wanted to see more of the Clone Wars series. As for Young Justice, I know personally there’s been a huge calling for the story to continue and a live action Teen Titans themed show feels like a no brainer. Unfortunately, I also realize that there’s going to be a $5.00 – $10.00 monthly ticket associated with each of these streaming services. Assuming Disney’s unnamed service falls in around the $8.00 per month area, you’re going to spend just shy of $40 a month to carry all of this programming and that is assuming you don’t pick up any of the commercial free options that are available – that brings it up to just shy of $50.

I can tell you with full faith and certainty that I’m going to subscribe to all of these services. I’m already subscribed to the ones that are available. I loved the exclusive Star Trek series and watching CBS shows without commercials makes it just a bit more relaxing. Hulu commercial free falls under the same category for me. I tend to not watch shows when they air so being able to quickly catch up feels really good. I am also the parent of a 3 year old who is enthralled with Disney products, so when they pull all their stuff and lock it behind a gate, I’ll be standing first in line to get my child in. As a self proclaimed comic character fanboy, I can tell you I have been waiting years for a subscription service to DC comics. The video streaming option is just icing on the cake for me.

In the end, all I can say is my poor bank account. Anyone else feel like they’re going to have  to sign over their paycheck for streaming services? Let me know in the comments.

Posted in Tech

I lost my wallet

Sometime Friday I lost my wallet. Most people would be in a fit over this, but because I have consistently lost my wallet since I changed to this new form factor, It didn’t really bother me. I figured it had just fallen out of my pants and got kicked under the bed or something. I didn’t really notice that it was missing until I went to pay for something Saturday. No big deal. Its at home, nothing to worry about. I get home Saturday night and look. I can not find it. I start to stress a little over this but I had just put my daughter and niece to sleep in my bed so I didn’t make a huge effort to search the room. I figure I’ll check tomorrow when the girls are up and it will be there and this is no big deal. Sunday morning rolls around and the girls are up and playing and I am tearing apart my bedroom trying to find my wallet with no luck. Eventually Sunday night my wife ends up finding it under the couch. All is good.

You might be reading this and wondering why I would bother to even write this article about this? The answer to this question is simple. The entire time that my wallet, which had my drivers license, debit card and credit cards, was missing, I was only mildly inconvenienced. Because of new technology, I was able to make the purchases I needed with only having to make slight adjustments to what would be my typical routine. Saturday night we had Pizza for dinner. Ordering it online was simple enough. Features in things such as Apple keychain and secure vaults in password application management software such as LastPass allow you to store credit card information. If you are so inclined, you can also allow the pizza company to retain your purchasing information to be used for later purchases. A little fault with ordering online is, it is not easy to do an “oh! and…”. We had forgot to get the drinks. This is the point where I was mildly inconvenienced. Normally I would just hop in the car and head down to Walmart, pick up some drinks and be on our merry way. Unfortunately Walmart does not see the value in contactless payment systems such as Android and Apple pay, So i went to Walgreen’s instead. Picked up the drinks we needed, waited in line. Picked up some red noses for the girls and checked out via my phone with no slowdown what so ever.

“But Shane!” I hear you start “You shouldn’t be driving without a license!” and I hear you my friend. Fortunately, the state had me covered there. Some time around 2015 Alabama decided to hand out digital copies of their drivers license. Currently I have a copy on my phone in my Apple Wallet.

Sunday while we were out and about handling things, we decided to visit everyone’s favorite fast food burger establishment, McDonald’s. My wife paid for dinner here. Where I come in is at the point we decided to buy an ice cream cone for our daughter. I go to the counter and order the cone, not even thinking once about the fact that i don’t have any of my cards. I open Apple Pay on my phone and tap the register, paying for my order and making me feel incredibly geeky in the process.

I know everyone’s mileage may vary, but for me, only having to redirect a visit (to a store that was about the same price and actually closer to my house), was not that big of a deal. I realize this calls for faith in technology where people are very reluctant to let anything near their debit and credit cards, but its a trade off for convenience. I’m not saying everyone should, or really even pushing anyone to try it. I just wanted to share my experience.

Posted in Opinion, Tech

Adobe Photoshop (CC) Vs Affinity Photo – A Quick and Dirty opinion

Most everyone knows Photoshop. Its he industry standard for photo manipulation. Prior to the introduction of AdobeCreative Cloud, it was a highly pirated piece of software. With the introduction of Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography plan allows individuals to get Photoshop CC for the simple price of $10 a month. This is great compared to the hundreds that Photoshop CS6 would have cost you, but it also has the downfall that you will always be paying for the software as long as you want to continue to use it. This brings me to Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo is another Photo manipulation software developed by Serif (http://www.serif.com)  Looking over some tutorial videos, I found that Affinity Photo offered majority of the editing option I was using in Photoshop. There were a few things I had issues with like changing the path of text, but it was not enough to have me doubt the ability of the application to replace Photoshop. Serif offers a 10 day trial of the software. Once I got to put my hands on the software, I was completely impressed. Affinity Photo has built in tutorials (links to videos and what not) on how to do some common things you would do in this type of software.  This software is a flat rate of $50.00 (Currently as of time of writing, 30% off).

With both of these products being exceptional for my needs, the only thing that was really tipping me towards affinity was the flat rate. Affinity costs more up front but  six months with Photoshop exceeds the cost. What really tipped the scales for me was Affinity Photo having an iPad app which used the same core engine. This means that I can migrate my work between my Mac and my iPad and have all the same editing options as the desktop software. This had an additional cost of $20.00 (Currently as of time of writing, 30% off), but even with the total collection at $70.00, since this was less than a year of Photoshop CC, it fully tipped the favor to Affinity.

I’d love to hear what you guys think. Leave a comment below telling me why you would pick one or the other.