By Avanish Tiwary
PVR Cinemas, the largest Indian film exhibitor by number of screens, is targeting a 50 percent increase in occupancy with the announcement of a five-year deal with Bookmyshow.com, widely known as India's largest entertainment ticketing portal.
Under the agreement, Bookmyshow will be PVR's official ticketing partner for the next five years, with a target to sell tickets worth Rs 1,000 crore in this period, whereas PVR expects to sell 13 to 15 percent of its tickets through Bookmyshow.
Bookmyshow, which has on its roster around 1,500 screens, will now add PVR's 383 screens spread in 36 cities to its kitty.
PVR has been selling about 20 percent of its total occupancy online till now through its own website and apps. "This deal would translate into an increase of occupancy for PVR by at least 50 percent. We would get more people watching in PVR who were earlier watching in some other cinema," says Pramod Arora, Group President and CEO, PVR Cinemas.
Almost all Indian cinema players already sell their tickets through Bookmyshow. Experts say that since Bookmyshow is an aggregator of almost all theatre and multiplex chains in India, people prefer searching for cinemas there rather than a particular theatre's website.
"Bookmyshow offers you a choice of looking at different theatres, movies, plays, etc. People go there because they have options," says Timy S Kandhari, media analyst and Founder at a consulting firm Sapphire Professionals.
On the question of PVR not allying with Bookmyshow till now, despite it being such a strong player in the online ticketing space, Arora says that PVR never really wanted to go to a third-party aggregator so early.
"We wanted our own IT platform to reach to some level before taking that next step of going to an aggregator. We set a benchmark of selling 20 percent our tickets through our website before going to an aggregator," says Arora, who specifically looks after IT and its integration with ticketing.
He adds that after crossing the 20 percent bump, they started looking for the best international and domestic player in the online ticketing domain. "And that happened to be Bookmyshow," says Arora, who agrees that PVR had a relatively closed door strategy towards technology till now.
Sapphire's Kandhari points out that online ticketing is only becoming more popular with movie-goers due to the convenience factor and the much smoother online payment experience. "More and more foreign players in the online ticketing industry are planning to launch in India," he says.
Bookmyshow has been strengthening its network in the wake of this possibility. Earlier this year, it acquired Chennai-based ticketing portal Ticketgreen, which gave them a larger foot print within the regional cinema network in southern India.
Avanish Tiwary works for Entrepreneur magazine.
Disclaimer: Bookmyshow is owned by Network 18 which also owns Firstpost and Entrepreneur magazine.