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BookMyShow founder & CEO Ashish Hemrajani on bringing PVR on board, expansion plans and more

Ashish Hemrajani

Ashish Hemrajani

Mumbai-based Bigtree Entertainment Pvt Ltd, which runs the country’s top movie and event ticketing portal BookMyShow.com, has brought on board PVR Cinemas,  the biggest theatre chain in India, by signing a five-year strategic partnership deal with it. Both the players are targeting ticket sales worth Rs 1,000 crore over the five-year period. This deal is significant for BookMyShow as PVR was the only major player absent on its booking platform and had till now been running its own independent web and mobile ticketing app. The deal adds some 250 new cinema screens to BookMyShow’s existing network. Cinemax, which was acquired by PVR last year, has already been present on BookMyShow. In a quick tete-a-tete with Techcircle.in, Ashish Hemrajani, founder and CEO, BookMyShow, talks about the pact with PVR and plans ahead. Edited excerpts:

For how long have the talks been on with PVR? What convinced them to come on board?

PVR and we have been partners for over 12 years. The backbone of PVR—the technology they use on box office counters—is installed and managed by us. So, we have had a strong relation with PVR for many years now.

PVR took a strategic call way back in 2009 that they want to build and run the front-end on their own. We have started doing a lot of work around CRM and analytics and we have also done a lot of work outside movies. So, we can customise and cross-sell for a similar set of audience. We have been able to add a lot more value.

Also, PVR recently bought Cinemax India and we have been working with Cinemax for a long time. And PVR probably analysed the kind of work we have done with Cinemax and were a little more confident about the fact that we can do more work for them. So, this strategic partnership is not just centred around ticket selling. We have also taken to provide alternative content, catering to non-movies business, etc.

What will happen to PVR’s own website and its self-run mobile ticketing app?

That will continue to function as it is. PVR’s online ticketing system will continue. They have now entered into a preferred agreement with us which will open up their entire inventory onto BMS sales channels.

Is there any other major player which is not on BMS?
No, we have all of them on board now.

Where do you go from here? What are your expansion plans this year?

We are looking at tier II and tier III towns. We are focusing on smaller cities and single-screen cinemas. We acquired Ticketgreen, a startup, in December last year which added 100 single-screen cinemas to our inventory in Tamil Nadu. Our focus will be to continue pushing tier II and tier III cities and get growth from those markets.

You earlier talked about adding a BMS wallet.
Is there any headway on that?

We already launched it a few months ago. It is called ‘My Payments’ and is available on our website as well as on apps. It has seen a very good response since people want single click sort of an experience. A lot of people have also opted for saving their card details.

Are you looking at more acquisitions?

Well, you never say never but right now nothing is on the cards. We time to time evaluate on the build v/s buy strategy and while nothing is planned as of now we would look at acquisitions on a case-to-case basis. It also depends on many factors—if the price is right, the team is good, the relationship is there and it doesn’t overlap with what we have already been doing, then we would probably look at it seriously.

Can you share the revenue break up for movies compared with the non-movie business? Which are the most popular non-movie categories?

In terms of ticket sales, movies contribute to 75 per cent of the total but in terms of revenue we have almost reached equitable split between movies and non-movie categories.
Sports and live events are the most popular amongst the non-movie categories.

How much do apps contribute to the business?

Over 25 per cent of our transactions happen through mobile apps on iOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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