NEW DELHI :
Online ticketing site BookMyShow has decided to create its own video content under a vertical called BookMyShow Online that will remain behind a paywall. Comprising shows such as comedy gigs, plays or music concerts apart from workshops and masterclasses, the platform says it will be akin to buying a one-time ticket to an event, except that this will be online.
“We’ve had conversations over the past one year on the physical and geographical limitations of a live event but this pandemic has given us an opportunity to fastrack these digital offerings and make it a mix of online and offline events which could be one way for us to reach out to smaller towns," Parikshit Dar, co-founder and director, BookMyShow said. It was something the company had deliberated upon during Irish rock band U2’s concert in Mumbai last December, Dar added, but is finally happening now.
BookMyShow started the first month of the pandemic by hosting free online events to gauge audience interests across entertainment genres and as of today, about 65% of the virtual events on the platform are behind a paywall while the remaining are free of cost. Subscriptions or tickets to these online events, Dar said, could range from ₹50-5,000 depending upon the nature of the show and artiste performing but the good news is while there is a younger generation more comfortable making online payments, response from older groups has been promising too and it is just a matter of educating them. Offerings include comedy nights with artistes like Vir Das, Vipul Goyal and Kishore Dayani, acting classes by Rakesh Bedi, Rohini Hattangadi and others, puppet, magic and poetry shows, cooking classes with chefs and concerts with artistes such as Ustad Shafqat Salamat Ali.
BookMyShow also plans to host popular electronic dance music festival, the Sunburn Home Festival on its platform this July. This will feature DJs from across the globe with 3D animation and special effects to make the virtual experience of a music concert seem as real as possible.
Footfalls or ticket sales for a virtual event are obviously not as high as a live event, Dar said, but the BookMyShow platform that has hosted over 750 events in these three months and is adding between 100-150 events daily, saw customer engagement of close to four million viewers within the first four weeks and has close to half a million viewers taking to them each week now. Going forward, virtual events will be an augmentation to the real world and the two should co-exist, Dar said.
Like many other brands, BookMyShow has seen an opportunity in pivoting during the pandemic. Earlier this month, Carnival Group, the operator of multiplex chain Carnival Cinemas forayed into cloud kitchen business by launching a wholly-owned subsidiary - Purple Foods & Beverages Pvt. Ltd and setting up 100 cloud units offering five brands.
“These are ways for any company to survive given that the future of the cinema business is uncertain," film trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar said. “They all have manpower and resources that they have to sustain so it makes sense to look at allied businesses."