[TechSparks 2020] OTT, cinema theatres will coexist in a post-COVID world, says BookMyShow’s Ashish Hemrajani
Candid and eloquent conversations are what BookMyShow Co-founder and CEO Ashish Hemrajani is known for. Despite the adverse effects of COVID-19 on the entertainment industry, especially the cinema industry, Ashish continues to be strong and hopeful.
“High winds doesn’t make great sailors, light wind sailing makes great sailors...they equalise everything. The question is are we high wind sailors or light wind sailors during the pandemic... What we do in the next 12 to 24 months will define us,” said Ashish during a fireside chat on ‘Reimagining the future of entertainment,’ at TechSparks 2020.
In a conversation with YourStory Founder and CEO Shradha Sharma, Ashish gave his take on how the entertainment industry will shape in a post-COVID era and why he continues to remain hopeful about cinemas.
Is OTT changing the dynamics?
Ashish feels that OTT (Over the Top) platforms are for the English-speaking population of India - “India that has high speed internet and is gadget driven,” he said. The kind of content emerging out of OOT platforms are best suited for people who have an ‘American style of living.’
Having said that, OTT platforms have opened up doors for content creators that earlier did not exist.
“OTT is democratising talent,” Ashish added. He said similar to how money came in for digital businesses and democratised wealth creation, OTT is doing the same for talent and content.
“True test over there (OTT platforms) is not subscription, but creating good content and deciding upon it is the challenge,” he said.
New and old will coexist
With movie theatres shutting down due to the lockdown, the conversation around OTT platforms taking over the traditional forms of entertainment have gained traction. However, Ashish believes that while OTT may have picked momentum, cinema will continue to attract the Bharatwasis who visit theatre for the experience.
“There is a need for entertainment for all of them, and cinema provides an escape from reality, from their homes and environment...In India, cinema is sold as an air-conditioned experience,” Ashish said.
“We currently live in a germophobia economy. After the lockdown, we will be in a claustrophobia economy,” he added.
The co-founder of India’s largest online movie ticket booking platform is hopeful that while new forms of entertainment are here to stay, markets will be up for traditional forms of entertainment in the next couple of months.
Having said that, he is of the opinion that cable television will suffer the brunt of the changes that come in a post-COVID world.
Once the country went under nationwide lockdown, BookMyShow was quick to move online. The platform has hosted more than 5,000 events post the lockdown, allowing users to experience these for free. “We made money for 20 years. We didn’t charge customers during the pandemic,” Ashish revealed.
Now that the economy has started to revive, 70 percent of BookMyShow’s customers are paying. In fact, Ashish said that the platform sold 40,000 tickets for an online circus show through its initiative ‘Save the Circus.’
BookMyShow has now zeroed upon five important goals that it needs to achieve in the next 18 months to three years, and the company will be solely focusing on those.
TechSparks - YourStory's annual flagship event - has been India's largest and most important technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship summit for over a decade, bringing together entrepreneurs, policymakers, technologists, investors, mentors, and business leaders for stories, conversations, collaborations, and connections that matter. As TechSparks 2020 goes all virtual and global in its 11th edition, we want to thank you for the tremendous support we've received from all of you throughout our journey and give a huge shoutout to our sponsors of TechSparks 2020.
Edited by Megha Reddy