A Pandemic Positive for Live Events: Ticketed Online Shows on the Rise

Industry Watch | July 29, 2020 | Feature

BookMyShow Paytm Insider Albert Almeida Shreyas Srinivasan

Since April 2020, Paytm Insider has ticketed over 7,000 digital events. And the number is only growing month on month. 

BookMyShow, the pioneer in online ticketing in India, sold 200 million tickets including movies and live events in the year ending December 2019, a figure that had doubled in three years. It declared revenue of Rs 595 crore in FY19, up significantly from Rs 391 crore the previous year. Over the last three years, the number of live events on the platform has tripled. The virtual wave brought with it a different kind of momentum. In March 2020, most of BookMyShow’s virtual events were free. By end-July, 65 percent of the ticketing platform’s virtual events are behind a paywall. 

These numbers speak volumes of the impact the Covid-19 lockdown has had on entertainment consumption, live events, and ticketing platforms. 

“Over 90 percent of the digital events we list now are ticketed versus at the start of the lockdown when the idea of attending a digital event didn't really exist. From then to now, we see consumer willingness to pay for quality content delivered via digital event formats growing,” says Shreyas Srinivasan, CEO, Paytm Insider.

Albert Almeida, BookMyShow COO for Live Entertainment, reveals that during the current lockdown, the platform had over 750 content in-home offerings in the first three months, with about 100 to 150 events being added daily. 

“These virtual in-home entertainment series worked phenomenally with over 4 million viewers in the first four weeks itself and have been witnessing strong growth of half a million consumers engaging with the platform each week on an average since. This uptake has been a testament to the growing popularity of this format,” explains Almeida.  

Tech-Ready Ticketing Players

All of the event industry’s stakeholders may not have been ready, but the ticketing platforms were, for the current reality.

“To be honest, from a technology perspective, there were no real challenges as a number of partner platforms have been built to deliver great social and streaming experiences and even handle volumes of traffic and concurrency of users,” avers Almeida. 

He adds, ‘BookMyShow’s product and technology stack has also been robust enough to manage traffic and cater to user loads running into millions when it comes to booking tickets for their favorite movies or concerts in the past, and now watching their favorite artists performing live on ‘BookMyShow Online’, making this an extremely scalable proposition.”

Paytm Insider has been working on digital events and experiences over the last year, but stepped up a gear with the lockdown, notes CEO Srinivasan. He says, “This proved to be a boon since we were able to offer smart solutions to bring events online faster than any other platform. We are continuing to stay focused on building platform features that would help deliver exciting online experiences.”

Key Differences: Experience, Ticket Size

Not all is well with the shift to virtual ticketed events -- not yet. While virtual events do not involve certain on-ground costs for organizers, consumers also pay significantly less for a virtual event with the same artistes. As do brands. 

“This format has kept the entertainment ecosystem afloat, with out-of-home entertainment coming to a temporary standstill. However there are significant differences in the very experience itself, be it the energy of a performance or the social nature of an out-of-home event. This wide gap in the experience that the consumer receives determines the value he is willing to pay for,” explains the BookMyShow COO.

“While the uptake of these events has been encouraging, we still have a long way to go to make it significantly viable and sustainable commercially, as we need to grow revenues -- either by way of ticketing consumers or by brands that come in as partners,” says Almeida.

Brands seem to be following customers, with some being early adopters. BookMyShow worked with Vodafone for a #RechargeForGood concert and with Rupay for a multi-phased #StayFitIndiaChallenge during the lockdown and is in talks for more partnerships. Almeida notes that alongside growing interest from content creators and promoters, there is also growing interest from brands in virtual events.  

A ‘Hybrid’ Future 

“We are currently in a new reality for the events industry, and the real challenge is adapting to it since all sections of this industry need to think through the present and future of events. This translates to working with organizers to identify, rethink, and develop digital event formats, and help them create value for attendees who are searching for live entertainment online,” observes Paytm Insider’s Srinivasan. 

Insider is also creating initiatives during the pandemic to unlock new revenue streams. This includes a new service called ‘Private Parties’, which enables people to book online experiences to celebrate occasions. To begin with, one can book storytellers, magicians, and other artistes for a child's birthday, with more being added to appeal to older age-groups.

“We are only at the start of digital events. New creative formats supported by technological developments will drive its growth. Digital events remove a set of location barriers enabling more users to interact with the event. We believe these formats will continue alongside on-ground events, providing fans and creators the ability to stay connected through the year without the logistical planning investment an on-ground event requires,” he adds.

BookMyShow’s Almeida points out that attending a live entertainment event is an experience that goes beyond just the artiste and the act, thanks to numerous elements and moments associated with it.

He surmises, “Having said that, given the current situation, live/curated performances delivered in-home have their place too and are liked for their intimacy, social media interactivity. The trends of the past few months indicate that there is a demand for such content and if well-curated, priced, and delivered, consumers will be willing to pay for these digital experiences. 

“We strongly believe that both formats (offline and online) have their respective place and are preferred amongst different consumers at different points and together and will coexist seamlessly in the ‘new normal’.” 

(Updated to include revenue and growth of BookMyShow at 11;00 hrs on 31st July 2020.)

BookMyShow's Albert Almeida and Paytm Insider's Shreyas Srinivasan explain the rapid rise of paid online events, albeit with smaller ticket sizes.

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