Battle for the Online Box Office: Fandango and MovieTickets

One of the small conveniences of the internet that I really enjoy is being able to order movie tickets online. Over the summer, I noticed that almost whatever site I visited to learn about a movie and look at show times eventually took me to one of two places to buy tickets: fandango.com or movietickets.com.

It seemed like I saw both pretty frequently, so I took a look at compete.com to see how competitive the sites really are. These metrics helped me learn more about the competition between Fandango and MovieTickets, but it also makes an important point about consumer behavior trends when it comes to the movie business.

First of all, I was surprised to see that not only does Fandango get more traffic, but it’s actually widened the gap with MovieTickets this summer to about 4.5 million visitors in July.

Overall traffic is a powerful metric, but it doesn’t tell the full story. Repeat business is also an important measure, so I took a look at the average monthly visits per person to these sites.

Fandango has also been ahead in visits per person since June 2007. In the last year, the average Fandango user visited about 1.6 times a month, while the average MovieTickets user visited about 1.4 times a month.

So Fandango has both more people coming to the site, and people coming slightly more often.

But I think the real story is in the overall trend we’re seeing with these sites. More people are buying movie tickets online and we see higher seasonal (summer and winter holidays) peaks over time. This suggests that buying tickets online is becoming a more widespread practice among consumers. Still, the number of times people go to these sites has been fairly flat, about 1.5 visits a month, on average.

Although more customers and more repeat business are both potential growth strategies, these data suggest that the real opportunity for Fandango and MovieTickets might be to grow by increasing volume of users and making the practice of ordering online more mainstream rather than trying to get customers to go see more shows.

I’ll see you at the movies.

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