Unlimited v Limitless: Dawn Of Subscription Wars
Survey after survey has shown that the number one driver in cinema choice is the films on offer followed by proximity. If you only have one local cinema, your choice of whether or not to buy into one of these subscription services will be easier. However if, like me, you have a choice between nine cinemas (and four chains) all within a reasonable half hour’s travel, which scheme offers you the best value and best options?
THE MONEY PIT
THE PERKS OF BEING A CARDHOLDER
Having newly launched, Limitless is a bit Spartan when it comes to additional benefits. You’ll have to pay an uplift fee for Premier Seats, 3D films and IMAX/ D-Box etc. You won’t be subject to the blockbuster price hike though. The card doesn’t offer any further discounts in the cinema and there are no discounts through partner organisations at the moment.
By contrast, Odeon offers its celebrated Odeon Screen Unseen showings for the bargain price of 5 a ticket. These are open to the general public but you can use your Limitless card to cover the cost of your ticket. To date, there have been no exclusive Limitless Cardholder screenings but this may change in future.
THE SOCIAL NETWORK
With a standard Unlimited membership you can book up to two Unlimited tickets in advance and after a year, Premium Unlimited members can book three films in advance. Special Unlimited screenings don’t count towards this allocation, so you can book them in advance as soon as they are available. There’s no limit to buying tickets on the day in cinema, provided the film times don’t overlap!
Both cinemas allow the use of a CEA Card with their membership schemes though.
It’s an easy decision to make if you go to the cinema a lot and there’s only a Cineworld or only an Odeon nearby but when you’ve got both, it’s hard to deny Cineworld offers better value for money at the moment. Another factor may be the cinema itself. If one is a brand spanking new multiplex and the other’s old or a bit tatty that can make a huge difference.
I’ve always preferred my local(ish) Odeon over the Cineworld cinemas near me but Unlimited made too much sense to ignore. My choice was also made easier by the fact the Odeon near me simply shows a greater variety of films than my two closest Cineworlds so there’s a good chance something I want to see won’t be accessible with just my Unlimited card so I took up Limitless too.
One other point worth noting is, since recent updates and ‘improvements’, the Cineworld website is awful, nearly to the point of unusable (thankfully you can still access the previous iteration here) and their iOS App has recently followed suit. The booking process on Odeon’s website and App is, by contrast, much better especially if you’re browsing for something to see (which you’ll do more of as an Unlimited/ Limitless customer) rather than booking a specific film. It’s worth noting too that Cineworld charge a booking fee for normal tickets whereas Odeon do not.
THE THIRD MAN
And where does this leave Vue, the UK’s third largest cinema chain? The number of people who go to the cinema often enough that a subscription service makes financial sense is likely to be a relatively modest proportion of the overall cinema going population. The subset of them for whom it makes sense to hold two subscriptions (such as, me) will be even smaller. The proportion of them who would then be willing to fork out for a third subscription must be vanishingly small and apart from their immediate catchment areas it’s hard to see them being able to make any inroads to the loyal subscription market if Limitless manages to establish itself as a credible alternative to Unlimited.
CLASH OF THE TITANS
Will Limitless manage to establish a foothold in the shadow of Unlimited and will it make inroads into Cineworld’s subscription dominance? With the UK’s two biggest cinema chains offering subscription memberships, does it signal a shift in the market and what impact will that have going forward? With the number of ‘must see’ films seemingly growing year on year there’s going to be no shortage of demand for money saving options when it comes to going to the cinema. Are you a member? Are you thinking about joining a second scheme or ‘defecting’ from one to the other? Do you think these membership subscriptions are a bargain or a waste of money? Perhaps you think the offerings online like Amazon’s streaming service is where the value lies. This is especially true when you can get discounts on Prime memberships and other products through sites like Raise – https://www.raise.com/coupons/amazon. If you’re concerned about the amount of money you may end up spending by signing up for subscription services like the ones that I have described then perhaps you could utilize the savings from discounts and coupons in order to help you budget in other areas of your life. Let me know in the comments section below!