Over 70% of events on our platform are ticketed today: Ashish Saksena, BookMyShow

Ashish Saksena, COO – Cinemas, BookMyShow, takes us through the brand’s ‘My Safety First’ initiative aimed at driving awareness about safety measures employed in theatres across the country

e4m by Christina Moniz
Published: Nov 4, 2020 8:43 AM  | 4 min read

BookMyShow, the entertainment company, was quick to respond to audience needs at the start of the lockdown back in March, offering a host of experiences and entertainment across genres completely free. Now almost seven months later, Ashish Saksena, COO – Cinemas, BookMyShow, tells us how the brand has over 70% of these events ticketed.

With cinemas finally open to audiences in October, Saksena takes us through the company’s ‘My Safety First’ initiative which will enable consumers to see the various safety measures employed by cinemas across the country.

Edited excerpts from our interview with him.

How is the brand adapting in these unusual times?
We were swift in rolling out the first phase of our in-home virtual entertainment offerings within one day of the national lockdown being announced in March. For the first few weeks of the lockdown, these offerings were completely free across genres such as music, theatre, art, comedy, fitness, performing arts and kids’ entertainment and they garnered tremendous engagement with tens of millions of users taking to these experiences within the first few weeks itself. We used the time to assess genres, price points and formats that customers preferred during this time to come up with fair pricing models based on different offerings. Today, over 70% of the events on the platform are ticketed, with a majority being hosted on BookMyShow Online, our streaming platform for live and virtual entertainment, and we are seeing a sharp spike in ticket sales each month.

What kind of response do you expect to see at cinemas now that they are finally open?
As per BookMyShow’s recent COVID survey report for cinemas titled ‘Back To Out-of-Home Entertainment’, 54% of Indian entertainment lovers are eager to get to theatres within 15-90 days of the lockdown lifting. The survey, which was conducted with 4,000 respondents who are active BookMyShow users, puts the criticality of safety measures squarely at the centre of users’ preferences.

Thus, BookMyShow’s ‘My Safety First’ feature is a natural extension of the safety expectations from consumers as gauged through this survey and it will enable consumers to see the various safety measures employed by cinemas across the country. The initial response to cinemas reopening in states like West Bengal and Assam has been very encouraging with not only individuals but family audiences also stepping out to watch films on the silver screen. Further, with states including Maharashtra and Telangana opening up, we will also see new releases being announced and this in turn, will set the ball rolling on the recovery cycle.

How are you marketing the virtual events at BookMyShow?
After providing free entertainment to millions of our users in the initial months of the lockdown, today over 70% of the events on the platform are ticketed and we have seen an encouraging spike in ticket sales month-on-month. The curation of marquee, quality content on the back of a strong industry and partner relationships across all genres has helped increase consumers’ propensity to pay. Our ticket sales as of early August grew 7x more than when we started virtual events during the early part of the lockdown. A strong response and healthy repeat viewership for these events in metros and beyond indicates positive appetite across categories and genres, when coupled with an unparalleled experience.

How do you expect the future of events and cinema entertainment to evolve in the light of the pandemic?
We are cautiously optimistic of the future. While resumption of services and recovery for the sector may take a few weeks, similar to any other industry impacted during the pandemic, it is clear that India is gearing up to step out and get back to its favourite entertainment experiences, as reflected in the initial response to cinemas opening up in October. Audiences have welcomed newer formats of live entertainment offerings with open arms, with comedy being one of the most-loved genres. We have observed a great response for these events to start with and are positive that this will only increase in the days to come as pent-up demand will drive consumption for live and out-of-home entertainment experiences. 

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