Mubichike Co., Ltd. was established for the purpose of selling advance tickets to cinema screenings through its Mubichike (movie ticket) portal. Based on the trends in the Japanese movie industry toward online ticket sales, distributors and cinema
complexes are working together to grow and develop the industry. In order to strengthen links with the younger generation, Mubichike is promoting its Windows 8 apps across multiple devices.
||By making use of Windows Azure Media Services, we can distribute content in multiple file formats. In other words, the trailers that are such important assets to the distribution companies no longer need to be encoded and delivered
to meet the requirements of various media. The best thing about this could be that the distribution companies can conduct the promotion of the movies more efficiently.
| Fumio Takagi
Mubichike Co., Ltd.
Mubichike Co., Ltd. was one of the first companies in the world to work with movie and cinema/entertainment companies to create an online service to sell advance tickets to cinema screenings as well as enabling the cinemagoer to reserve a specific seat in the
theater. This new business started small, and Fumio Takagi, the President of Mubichike, explains that: “Without cloud services our systems would never have got off the ground.” Mubichike compared several different platforms, including Amazon Web Services,
and in the end they chose Windows Azure. With user numbers rising, Mubichike is currently providing apps for Windows 8 that can be used across multiple devices.
Since the launch of the service, user numbers have been increasing. As Mubichike President Takagi states: “Our growth is on track.” He adds: “Mubichike is now in its second year and our sales are up 160% from the same month of the previous term. This is pretty
much in line with expectations. At this point in time, we have secured the collaboration of about 60% of the cinemas in Japan and our plan is to eventually have all of the cinemas in the country signed up for our service.”
At launch, Mubichike had identified female users in their 20s and 30s as its main target demographic. It has won that market and additional new groups of users. President Takagi takes up the story: “With regard to the Japanese cinema market, the main demographic
in terms of moviegoers is young ladies and we have seen that they are also heavy users of the Mubichike service. We are also registering significant numbers from men in their 30s and 40s. I believe that this is due to the success of movies that are targeted
at family audiences.”
The greatest merit of the Mubichike service from the perspective of the user is the ability to reserve specific seats in the theater via the internet. Takagi goes on to explain that this benefit was most keenly felt by the family moviegoers who had purchased
advance tickets: “In particular, families with small children who were going to the theater to see a movie often tend to schedule cinema trips with friends and their family members too. That means you have a large party going to the theater and before the
advent of Mubichike, even if everyone had bought advanced tickets, you still had to wait in line and get a seat. You didn’t know if you would be able to all sit together in the theater. With Mubichike you can reserve a specific seat in the theater for each
person with an advance ticket. You pay the cheaper advanced ticket price and yet you are assured a specific seat – everyone is happy, everyone benefits. This service has been particularly well-received.” Benefits like this are driving the growth of Mubichike
and this is what it plans to leverage in its efforts to prevent young people from losing touch with the cinema.
The younger generation often does not have access to a credit card, which can make it difficult to use certain online services, but Mubichike has created a prepaid Mubichike card that can be purchased for cash at various retailers. The card can be used to pay
for and reserve cinema tickets using apps across a wide variety of devices.
Utilize Existing Development Assets; Rapid Development of Apps for Windows 8 and Windows Phone
Mubichike chose Windows Azure as its platform for its web services. Many users access the services offered by Mubichike via a browser on a PC, but in order to increase the channels to connect with users, Mubichike decided to develop and distribute free apps
that could be used on Windows 8 and Windows Phone.
One of the reasons Mubichike chose Windows Azure was the ease with which this platform can interact with other devices. Takeo Kaibara, the Director of the System Services Division, Business Development Department at Mubichike explains further: “With Windows
Azure, we could use our existing development assets, such as .NET Framework, etc. Our IT partners had assets that could be used to develop applications with .NET Framework so creating the Mubichike apps was a smooth process that we managed to complete in a
very short period of time. In terms of the speed of our business, this was a very important and effective solution for us.”
Kaibara goes on to state that the framework for selling/distributing apps in the Windows Store and the Windows Phone Store gives Mubichike peace of mind: “The services offered by Mubichike are based on the trust relationship that we have built with each distribution
company and cinema. As a result, if we put out an app with our name on it, even if the app is free, it cannot be low quality. To this end, we benefit from our app going through the rigorous quality control processes implemented by Microsoft for the Windows
Store. And after downloading the app, users will always have the latest version of the app as it will automatically update, even if the app is not running. This is something that we are really pleased about. Also as we keep very tight reins on our app in terms
of management and security, we are confident that we can prevent any pirated versions of our app getting out.”
Kaibara expands on the comment made earlier by Mubichike President Takagi: “Without cloud services our systems would never have got off the ground.”
Kaibara adds: “Recently cinemas are not finalizing their schedules until a week or so beforehand. As a result, the busiest days in terms of traffic on Mubichike are the days when the schedules for a popular movie have been released for the week to come. Suddenly
our servers have to cope with this surge in traffic and we need to double the number of access instances that our system can handle. We can now get this procedure done in 3 minutes. This also means that when the busy days have passed and we go back to regular
traffic volumes, we can return to the original number of instances. We are very happy that we can offer a continuous, seamless and smooth service to our users at essentially no extra cost. Thanks to this approach, to date the rate of use for the CPUs in each
of our Windows Azure servers has not yet hit 20%. Fast response time is absolutely critical for the success of our business.”
Providing Services to Support the Movie/Cinema Industry: Windows Azure Media Services
Mubichike President Takagi states that: “Our one request is for all of the movie and cinema companies in Japan to come together with our systems and for us to develop an infrastructure together that can help the Japanese movie industry grow and flourish.
Mubichike can provide services related to selling advanced tickets and a system for selecting your seat in the theater. In the immediate future we do not envisage increasing our scope any further than this. But to provide more movies to more users, there should
be a way to introduce each cinematic release. Thus we are planning to show the trailers for upcoming releases in the Mubichike app. We are currently preparing to use Windows Azure Media Services.”
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The infrastructure that Mubichike will provide via Windows Azure Media Services could become something that the entire movie and cinema industry can use simply and easily, according to Mubichike President Takagi. He adds that: “We want to take this forward
so that people can use an app to watch a trailer, but let’s be clear about one thing – we have no desire to launch a full-scale business based on media services. By making use of Windows Azure Media Services, we can distribute content in multiple file formats.
In other words, the trailers that are such important assets to the distribution companies no longer need to be encoded and delivered to meet the requirements of various media. The best thing about this could be that the distribution companies can conduct the
promotion of the movies more efficiently. After all, our overall aim at Mubichike is to provide a useful infrastructure to the movie companies and distributors, and to be a company that supports the industry.”