BookMyShow has picked up an undisclosed majority stake in Townscript, a Pune-based DIY (Do-it-Yourself) event registration and ticketing platform founded by Sanchit Malik and Sachin Sharma. Multiple reports suggest that this is an acquisition, with around 75% stake acquired by BookMyShow. Townscript was launched in January 2014, and a year later, had raised angel funding from investors including Mohit Garg (Co-Founder, MindTickle), Mahesh Parasuraman (Managing Director-Carlyle Group), Nipam Shah (Founder, NRS Advisors), Dheeraj Vasisht (Director – Ameretat Technologies), Sandeep Bhandarkar (CEO – Ameretat Technologies), Hemal Patel ( CEO – Cyberoam Technologies), Lalit Singh (Executive Director – Enterprise Services HP), Kalyan G (AVP Technology Business, Mahindra Tech) and few others.

BookMyShow, last year, raised Rs 550 crore from US-based private equity firm Stripes Group. More on that here. We don’t have the latest information, but here’s what we have:
Revenues of Rs 78 crore for the quarter ended June 30 (Q1 FY17), selling 30 million tickets in the quarter.
– Revenues of Rs 235.94 crores in FY16, with a profit of Rs 3.17 crore. Network18, at the end of the last financial year, owned 39.35% of BookMyShow (source, Network18 Annual report, page 183). An average of 7.8 million tickets were sold per month last year.

In the past year, BookMyShow has acquired a ticket booking portal MastiTickets; In March last year, it acquired Chennai-based Fantain Sports, a fan management and analytics startup. In October, it expanded operations to Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

Our take on this deal, and the DIY space

A note from BookMyShow suggests that Townscript spotted the opportunity in DIY ticketing “early on”, but that is hardly the case: Eventbrite is the global parallel, and India has had DIY platforms like Explara and Doattend for years. It’s just that BookMyShow never really sought this opportunity out, largely for it being a low margin commoditised space (with both tech and platform commoditised), which means that the merchant base is hardly going to be loyal; in all likelihood, they’ll go where they get a better deal, either in terms of (in order of priority) margins, or service. Pardon my being reductive, but what is there, except a payment gateway with a platform on top? Townscript even pitches to merchants that it has an “extremely simplified transaction based revenue model-it charges 3.99% + INR 10 per transaction, inclusive of the payment gateway fee.” Meanwhile, Paytm uses cashbacks to get people to buy tickets on its platform, instead of BookMyShow.

Where the differentiator is perhaps going to be, is in marketing of events. Townscript knows this, while pointing out that “The platform also aids discovery of events by users through SEO optimized listings, targeted email campaigns and event categorization basis genre and location.” Explara launched marketing solutions last year. However, if the platform owner can build an interest graph around users purchasing and browsing history, they can market events to them to deliver better sales for the merchant. BookMyShow achieves that with its strong customer recall for events (actually, movies) in the market, as compared with, for example, a Paytm or (OML run) Insider.in. That brings in better pricing power. But things are changing. At the end of the December 2016 quarter, Network18 pointed out about BookMyShow that “competitive intensity in the business has risen substantially over 9mFY17”. Lets also not forget, that Paytm is also a data business.

So what’s the game? BookMyShow can offer selectively pull in events listed on Townscript (they claim to have done 12,000 events so far), use some of this as a lever to get more people to list their events on the platform. Eventually, it should be in a position to offer listing of a TownScript event on BookMyShow as an upgrade. Townscript can give it access to a larger base of merchants, and more data on user behavior with a single-sign-on for the two properties.