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Is an online ticketing aggregator, BookMyShow, an ecommerce model like no other?
The secret sauce of BookMyShow, a virtual monopoly in online movie ticketing, may be a lack of overriding ambitions. The G7 multiplex in the suburb of Bandra in Mumbai is not really a multiplex. For popular shows, more tickets are sold by touts on the pavements outside at a premium than at the counters. So, when BookMyShow BMS , an online ticketing aggregator for movie and events, announced in mid-January that it had signed up G7, it was indeed a surprise.
G7 on the other hand is manifestation of a conviction of the BMS management that there is growth lurking in the less glitzy and often dusty avenues of Indian cinema.
In January , along with G7, BMS also announced the coming on board of Maratha Mandir, the iconic 1,seater single screen theatre near central Mumbai which still runs a daily am show of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. The highest price at G7 or Maratha Mandir on any regular day for a movie like Airlift hovers around Rs For the Rs 15 ticket at Maratha Mandir it charges Rs 3. Multiplexes like PVR are in a different league with premium offerings sometimes commanding more than Rs a ticket. In spite of the low prices outside multiplexes, growth for BMS hinges less on multiplexes and more on single-screen and traditional cinemas.
And not just in big cities but more and more in the hinterland.
BMS today has 2, screens on its portal and mobile app, with all major multiplexes on board. India on the other hand has around 12, screens of which only 2, are multiplexes. As a growth avenue it does not seem a lucrative path.
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First, ticket values and therefore margins are even lower and as one goes into tier II and tier III cities, online payment becomes a problem. Second, movie ticket pricing is a highly regulated regime with different rules for different states, and ticket pricing has to be announced in advance to the authorities.
BMS, on top of that, is already a virtual monopoly in the Indian market. Bigtree started by selling a ticketing software called Vista made by a New Zealand-based company to multiplexes that were coming up at the time. Then, in , after a major investment by Network18, BMS was launched. Hemrajani is clear that he is not going to offer discounts in the hunt for valuations. He remembers very well the days in when the company had to let go of staff, was reduced to six people and did not have money to even buy air tickets to Delhi.
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And even as the likes of Paytm, a payment wallet and an ecommerce marketplace with permission to launch a payment bank, has declared its intention to offer discounted tickets for movies, Hemrajani insists that BMS has no plans to convert its own closed-loop wallet into anything else to compete. Not Really Ecommerce? The balcony outside often doubles up as a bigger meeting space and a strategically-placed bicycle decorated with LED lights adds to the optics.
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The lobby chairs all seem to be lifted out of a cinema and the walls are actually ripped out of large transport containers. It recently sold Filmfare awards tickets, offering a chance to buyers to rub shoulders with stars. He explains that a Flipkart or a Snapdeal clocks revenues from at least seven or eight different streams, including vendor commission, logistics commission, payment commission and advertising.
He further suggests that there can be many ways of pushing sales like location specific inputs. The website for instance now allows users to look for events that are happening in and around the city, or even group events for kids in a single place.
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It has also created a new service for ratings of movies and urges actual ticket buyers to rate a movie. The ratings have surprised the team see Movie Ratings and good ratings especially for regional flicks have spurred on distributors to book more screens for some of them. Numbers Game Hemrajani insists that the growth strategy would be more vertical than horizontal; moving deeper into the country and finding more screens and at the same time looking for openings into markets abroad.
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