We missed this earlier: BookMyShow is now in the Transactional Video on Demand (TVOD) market, launching BookMyShow Stream, a pay-per-view platform like iTunes and Google Play Movies where viewers can buy or rent films. “Contributing to the Make-In-India story, BookMyShow has rolled out ‘BookMyShow Stream’ – India’s largest homegrown Transaction Video-on-Demand (TVOD) streaming platform,” the company said in a press release on February 5. BookMyShow dipped its toes in the TVOD market by partnering with the streaming service ShemarooMe to release films that didn’t get a shot at a theatrical release; that arrangement has ended now that theatres are reopening, and BookMyShow is going it alone with a mix of already-released films as well as movies that never got a release in the country.
BookMyShow released Tenet uncensored on Stream, which is a promising sign for viewers who might be concerned about censorship — Apple and Google frequently release the censored theatrical cut of Hollywood films, though they sometimes put up uncensored versions, particularly for films that are not heavily promoted in the country. However, it’s not clear if all Hollywood and Indian films will be uncensored. We have reached out to the company for comment on that front.
Prices same as competition
BookMyShow Stream’s prices currently match its competition — iTunes and Google Play —, but are lower by a slight amount. For example, Tenet costs Rs 720 and Rs 690 on Google Play and iTunes respectively, and BookMyShow has priced the film at Rs 681. TVOD streaming services never took off significantly in India, and it is unclear whether BookMyShow, which has mostly relied on online ticketing commission revenue for real-life events, can change that. The company is familiar with the business model though — TVOD providers keep a portion of each sale they make, a way of doing business the ticketing giant is no doubt used to. However, the competition is in the percentage of the cut and the size BMS Stream is able to reach, as exclusivity is only going to be possible for a few titles.
In any case, pivoting to streaming isn’t the most outlandish bet BookMyShow could make; tools exist readily in the open market to set up a streaming service without building one from scratch in-house.
Companies like Vimeo and Brightcove make the economics of running a streaming service easier to stomach, especially for a low-risk business model like TVOD. BookMyShow already runs some live events through Brightcove, allowing it to earn some revenue from livestreaming events in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even if BookMyShow Stream fails, it may not need to burn too much capital on the endeavour. The company may in fact have a bit of luck: it has a multi-million base of users who are accustomed to transacting online already, something that may give it a leg up over other TVOD platforms.