Excl: Sneak peek at how BookMyShow is scripting its international show

18 Oct, 2012

Online movie ticketing platform BookMyShow.com has quietly launched its B2C operations in the Australasia region and is now preparing for a potential foray into the developed markets of the West, sources told Techcircle.in. This comes as another sign of Indian consumer internet firms looking at markets beyond the subcontinent after restaurant review site Zomato has recently expanded abroad while others like online bus ticket booking site RedBus are eyeing acquisitions in the South-east Asian region.

One source told Techcircle.in that BigTree Entertainment, which runs BookMyShow, is working with its Auckland-based joint venture partner Vista Entertainment. It is not only consolidating the operations in the Oceania region but is also evaluating the opportunities to enter other global markets where Vista is already present. Vista Entertainment is a software developer for managing movie theatres.

The company has launched two separate B2C sites – one for New Zealand some time ago and another recent one for Australia through majority-owned joint ventures, partnering Vista. The NZ site offers ticketing for around 11 regions, comprising some 22 sub-markets including Auckland, Dunedin and Hamilton, while the Australian site offers ticketing for Sydney and Melbourne.

We have noticed that BookMyShow is offering an interesting feature to pre-book movie tickets even before a flick is released or its tickets are up for sale (something it doesn't offer in India). In addition, it also sells tickets for Stardome Observatory and Planetarium.

According to another source, a good chunk of the money, recently raised by BookMyShow, will be used for global expansion in the future. Two months ago, venture capital firm Accel Partners invested Rs 100 crore to buy a large minority stake in Big Tree Entertainment, through a mix of primary share issue and sale of shares by existing investor Network18 Media & Investments. Around half of that money went to Network18 with the company raising the rest through fresh issue of securities.

When contacted, BookMyShow founder & CEO Ashish Hemrajani declined to comment on the foray into the developed market but acknowledged the company's entry to Australia, after its expansion to New Zealand. He added that full scale operations in the Oceania region are expected to start only by the end of 2013, even though the two sites are already live.

In an earlier video interaction with Techcircle.in, Hemrajani said that the firm is interested to go global even though there is still a lot of potential to expand further at home and the focus remains on India.

Hemrajani did not share the information regarding the initial traction that the overseas sites have seen but added that Vista Entertainment holds 90 per cent of the market share in both Australia and New Zealand, and the tie-up is critical to get a heads-up in those markets. Besides, such an exposure also enables the company to understand how to run the business in a developed country.

Although these are smaller markets, with a combined population of close to 26 million, they offer a good sample size for testing the platform. These are also the markets where sports events rule and BookMyShow has been involved with such events back home – selling tickets for cricket and Formula 1 racing, among others.

We have noticed that BookMyShow is also getting relatively higher margins, charging some NZ$1 per ticket while the pre-booking feature has double the fee (although we couldn't find any movie to pre-book, possibly reflecting that it is still in the testing phase).

If the current presence of its foreign partner is any indication, BookMyShow may look at North America and the UK as and when it plans to target the Western market. Vista Entertainment is a multinational software developer for online cinema ticketing and backend services, and has developed customised software solutions for many cinema chains, such as Cineplex, Galaxy and Pacific Theatres in North America, Vue Entertainment in the UK and MegaBox in China.

However, the going may not be that smooth in the developed markets as the company would be dealing with strong incumbents like www.fandango.comwww.moviefone.com and www.movietickets.com. But the silver lining is that most of the larger aggregators do not seem to sell Bollywood movie tickets in their countries. But with a large Indian diaspora present there, BookMyShow may well hit a niche market to capitalise upon.

(Edited by Sanghamitra Mandal)