Online movie ticketer Fandango says that 20 percent of its virtual box office this summer was generated by its iPhone, iPad and Android apps and its redesigned wap site. But some of the thanks goes to a fictional wizard, alien robots and some guys who’ve been drinking too much (again).
Mobile was the big reason for the enormous number of tickets for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 and Transformers: Dark of the Moon sold on Fandango. It sold more mobile tickets for “Part 2″ than it has for any other movie — beating the previous record-holder, The Hangover II. Overall, Fandango claims to have sold 19 percent of the Potter finale’s domestic opening weekend box office record of $168 million.
There are some interesting differences between PC-based ticket buyers and smartphone/tablet consumers, said Mark Young, VP, strategy & business development, mobile for NBCUniversal’s entertainment & digital networks group (it oversees Fandango since the broadcaster merged with the movie site’s parent Comcast), in an interview. “There’s a time-sensitive quality to mobile purchases, it’s an impulse buy,” Young said. “Users on the PC are more interested in browsing and seeing what’s out there. The phone is more of a utility are doing this on a spur of the moment.”
There was a feeling that the mobile apps would cannibalize the PC site, but so far, Fandango and rival Moviefone have said it’s just the opposite. (According to comScore (NSDQ: SCOR), Fandango Movies Portfolio had 16.9 million uniques in June, while Moviefone had 12.6 million. Internally, Fandango claims about 30 million visitors combined to its mobile and PC-based sites.)
This past spring, Moviefone unveiled its iPad app as part of a bid to further the site’s perception as a content site in addition to selling movie tickets. Like Fandango, it sees the iPad app as a way to complement it’s smartphone offerings.
Fandango’s various free apps have been downloaded 18 million times across iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, Palm (NYSE: HPQ), Windows Phone 7 and others, the company says.
While the apps get most of the media attention these days, the mobile wap site, which was developed by Trilibis Mobile, is still considered important, as users are searching the web on their phones to find movie times and theater info. In a ranking of the top mobile movie sites in March, Nielsen had Fandango at number two with 3.8 million uniques (behind IMDB with 4.3 million) and ahead of Moviefone, which was at number four with roughly 800,000. However, Fandango’s mobile web traffic grew at 20 percent since Oct. 2010, while Moviefone gained 27 percent during that same period.
As it looks to make its mobile site more response and quicker to use, Fandango is planning to release additional apps, which are created in-house, in the coming weeks, though it wouldn’t say what it is. One other existing area Fandango wants to develop is its social media side. It had partnered with Facebook Connect early on in terms of letting users post what movie tickets they had just bought. But since then, check-in sites like GetGlue have become more popular, so Fandango may want to consider ways of building on its Facebook relationship.
Secondly, it’s also looking for ways to leverage its new relationship with its NBCU (NSDQ: CMCSA) siblings. It already has a joint ad sales team established and is currently available on new Samsung wifi-enabled TVs as a widget.