Adding to the ‘E’ FACTOR

Debarati Palit Singh
Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Ashish Saksena, COO-Cinemas, BookMyShow, talks about the growth of the entertainment ticketing brand and the challenges.

Watching films isn’t just a hobby for Indians, it is an integral part of their lives. Cashing in on the craze for films, online ticketing brand BookMyShow has been seeing a steady growth since its inception. Recently, it broadened its horizons by moving on from just being an online ticketing forum to a platform for anything in the world of entertainment. 

Ashish Saksena, COO-Cinemas, BookMyShow, talks about the growth of the entertainment ticketing brand and the challenges.

Watching films isn’t just a hobby for Indians, it is an integral part of their lives. Cashing in on the craze for films, online ticketing brand BookMyShow has been seeing a steady growth since its inception. Recently, it broadened its horizons by moving on from just being an online ticketing forum to a platform for anything in the world of entertainment. 

Ashish Saksena, COO-Cinemas, BookMyShow, who has earlier worked with PVR and Big Cinemas, says that the overall market share for online transactions has also grown multi fold. Here’s chatting him up:  

How do you look at the growth of BookMyShow in the last few years?
With increasing internet and smartphone penetration in India, more people are realising the convenience associated with online entertainment ticketing. BookMyShow was among the first few companies to foresee the potential of mobile phones in India and therefore, launched its app many years ago. Today, over 75 per cent of transactions on BookMyShow happen over mobile phones. The overall market share for online transactions has also grown multi fold. In fact, our growth has been considerably faster than that of the box office.  

With BookMyShow broadening its horizons by offering online ticketing to all types of entertainment avenues, what other avenues are you planning to get into?
We are constantly innovating and have introduced many new features such as MyWallet, MyCoupons, Reserve Now, Pay Later, F&B — all targeted towards enhancing the movie-going experience for our users. More recently, we launched ‘Plan-it’, the in-app instant messaging feature that allows users to create movie plans without having to toggle between BookMyShow and other chat-related apps or calls. We have started in-house production of entertainment-led videos to increase user engagement on our platforms. 

Online ticketing is common in urban areas, but are Tier II/ III cities also opening up to the idea?
Absolutely — we are consistently growing in Tier II and Tier III cities as people are increasingly adopting the idea of online transactions. This is clear from the fact that BookMyShow is now present in more than 650 towns and cities. In the last one year, we have penetrated into many new locations such as Tirupati, Angara, Kamareddy, etc. We have also launched multiple language options and our users are now able to choose from Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada. 

With internet yet to reach a larger section of society, what are the challenges that online ticketing is still facing?
Reluctance to transact online via net banking or by using credit and debit cards seems to be a challenge although the situation is fast improving with the recent push towards digitisation. Another challenge is of course internet penetration in smaller towns and cities, however, this is also improving by the day. To increase penetration in these markets, we continue to work closely with cinemas to increase footfalls. 

Movie viewing has become a wholesome experience with food and beverages adding to the entertainment. How do you look at the trend?
Movie watching in India is not just an activity but rather an experience that we share with friends and family, and customers are willing to pay for better experience, facilities and ambience. Food plays an important role in it, which is why it can be observed that cinemas are now serving elaborate menus. 
BookMyShow has launched MyCoupons — exclusive and free discount coupons — that can be availed at popular restaurants and cafes in the vicinity of the cinema a user is visiting. This offer is now present in over 60 cities across India. Users, while booking their tickets on BookMyShow, can also pre-order their F&B and avail exclusive combos at discounted prices. 

With films like Sairat and Baahubali doing extraordinary business at the box office, regional films seem to be gaining attention. How do you see the growth of regional cinema?
The success of regional films across India is testament to the fact that viewers appreciate good content. Movies like Sairat and Baahubali have definitely proven this. While the Southern market is extremely evolved and often overtakes the Hindi film market with its films, the growth of Punjabi, Marathi and Bengali films has also been extremely encouraging and is proving to be a game changer. It also helps that regional films can now release all over India and not just in their specific region, thanks to digital projection. 

What are some of the trends we will see in online ticketing?
Online entertainment ticketing will continue to grow in India. Currently, only 10-12 per cent of overall movie ticket transactions happen online, leaving a huge headroom to grow. In countries like China, online movie ticketing contributes to as high as 80 oer cent of overall movie ticketing. In India, BookMyShow alone currently contributes to 30-40 per cent of opening weekend collection of a blockbuster film and even higher for niche multiplex oriented films. We are diligently working towards increasing this share.

The author can be followed on Twiiter @DebaratiPalitSi

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