The company launched its own video streaming platform earlier this month
Revenue earned by online ticketing platforms was down to zero in the first two months of the nationwide lockdown. After curating live-streamed events for a few months, BookMyShow launched its own video streaming platform earlier this month. Parikshit Dar talks to Venkata Susmita Biswas about the differentiating features of the streaming service, monetisation opportunities, and more. Edited excerpts:
What led to the launch of your video streaming service, BookMyShow Online, during the lockdown?
The key focus for us has been to keep engagement going on the platform, because in the absence of events and movies, people had no reason to come to our website. The other was to discover if there are any revenue opportunities around this, either through ticketing or sponsorships. We introduced the Watchguide which helps viewers discover OTT content.
For the first two months of the lockdown — April and May — we were mainly curating free content streamed on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Right now, about 65% of the content on the platform is behind a paywall. This experience let us understand the kind of content and formats that were working online.
We always wanted to have a live streaming platform, and this got accelerated by the pandemic. We initially intended it to be a pure live streaming platform, but now it can stream pre-recorded content as well. In association with video solution platform Brightcove, we built BMS Online in 45 days.
How is BMS Online different from any other streaming platform?
The value of our platform is the consumer base and the insights we have on their content consumption patterns, likes, dislikes, etc. This platform will run across the BMS app and website for scale; it can host a smooth experience for over 50,000 concurrent viewers per minute at any given point. We are currently testing it to take this to one lakh concurrent viewers.
Multiple creators can interact remotely on the platform, and this could enable people to create content together from anywhere. We have tried to recreate on-ground live entertainment experiences online. We will be automating the configuration of events as well as emails to artistes. Viewers will be able to engage with the content using emojis and chats. They will also be able to post reviews and give ratings.
Filmmakers have been streaming their movies first on OTT. Is BMS looking to offer a pay-per-view option to them?
We are intensely debating this internally. We are confident that movies will bounce back by Q3 of the year. The platform has the ability to do so; however, we have not taken a final business decision on this yet.
How can content creators monetise their content via this platform?
Monetisation will be a mix of sponsorships and ticket sales. We have seen encouraging signs from brands. Vodafone partnered for #RechargeForGood; RuPay came on board for an event; and Fastrack, Zee5 and Spotify have sponsored Sunburn Home Festival: Chapter 1. Currently, monetisation happens in the pay-per-view format, but we are also working on a subscription model. The online monetisation model with content creators is the same as our offline model where creators pay us a fee and commission.
Do you plan to keep this streaming service active beyond the pandemic?
We have built the platform for the long term. We have been thinking of this solution from the view of scaling up events and reaching the smaller towns to give people an interactive online experience. BookMyShow Online will become an add-on feature in the future, where online and offline becomes a package. I do not think this will become a standalone significant revenue opportunity in the near term, where only online streaming of events will drive good revenue.
In terms of business, we expect to start seeing revival from October. Hopefully, by the end of the financial year everything will be back to normal.
Where do you position yourself in the crowded video streaming market?
We are not competing with video streaming platforms at all. They are catering to a vastly different segment of users. We are a company that encourages out-of-home entertainment, and are pretty confident that the sector will bounce back, and the online streaming platform will add value to our core offering.