Movie-goers who check the Internet before choosing their movie destination say buying tickets online would be the logical next step in their online excursions. In an AC Nielsen ReelResearch study commissioned by America Online, more than half of AOL members said they would buy tickets online through AOL’s Moviefone.com site.
While the survey specifically asked about the Moviefone service, the results suggest online ticketing for movies could be a promising business. AOL serves more than 18 million Internet users, meaning more than 9 million Web surfers are willing to buy tickets online. Moviefone, one of a handful of online ticket sources, has the added advantage of an established brand name in major cities. The service has been operating via telephone for years, allowing users to search for movies in their area by movie title or zip code.
The Internet outranks magazines and radio as a source of movie information for AOL members. While 45 percent of those surveyed said they look on the Internet, 44 percent said they turn to magazines and 36 percent listened to the radio for movie information. AOL did not report how many checked the local newspaper, likely the top source of information, or relied on TV commercials for movie information.
The more movies AOL members see, the more they use the Internet as a resource, the survey said. Fifty-four percent of members who attend more than three movies per month check online first. Young movie-goers, ages 18 to 24, are also more likely to get their movie information online, with 52 percent checking the Internet and 45 percent picking up the paper.
Online Promotion Has Lasting Impact
Why are AOL members keen to see movies? Austin Powers may have the answer, the online service says. After AOL promoted the latest Mike Meyers action spoof, “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me,” on its service, interest in viewing the movie increased 44 percent among those who remembered the online ads. AOL did note that the movie was also heavily promoted on television and in print media at the same time. According to AC Nielsen, 65 percent of AOL members who recalled seeing an advertisement on AOL said they wanted to see the film, versus 45 percent of those who did not recall seeing the AOL ads.
“Austin Powers” distributor New Line Cinema worked with AOL and MovieFone to promote the new movie and test the connection between online promotion and online ticket sales. The studio offered advance screenings of the movie in 10 cities and sold tickets only through Moviefone.com, linked to all of AOL’s Web properties and its proprietary online service. Marketed and ticketed only through the Internet, all 10 screenings sold out.
That screening experiment spawned a new agreement between AOL and New Line Cinema last month to market New Line movies on the AOL Movies page and promote them in the AOL Entertainment Channel and its chat areas. To promote future movies, New Line said it will create special pages linked to AOL for each movie. The pages will include photos and information on the cast and story line, and they will post the movie release date and theaters where it will be shown.