After bringing Canada-based variety show Cirque du Soleil to India last year, online ticketing company BookMyShow (BMS) is bringing the first ever live National Basketball Association (NBA) game to India. The pre-season game will be played between the Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers on October 5 at the NSCI Dome arena in Mumbai. The match will be telecast live in India on the Sony sports cluster, and in 200 countries globally.
The partnership with NBA is among BMS’s many efforts to grow the non-movie or live entertainment pie in its business. Currently, the live entertainment business accounts for 35 per cent of the company’s revenues, and it intends to take this number up to 50 per cent over the next two years.
Sports has played an important part in the development of the non-movie business at BMS with a variety of domestic leagues kicking off in the past decade or so. Starting with the Indian Premiere League, the ticketing platform has partnered with numerous sporting events as ticketing partner, driving engagement within its consumer community, beyond movie ticketing.
Albert Almeida, COO – Live Entertainment, BookMyShow, says, “We have a positive outlook for sports in the country since more people have started watching sports, on TV, and live, in India. We have seen good sales in IPL and other leagues. In fact, IPL matches have crossed 90 per cent occupancies in some cases. We have had ticket sales worth Rs 1000 crore from sports in the 2016 to 2018 period which is very encouraging.”
In case of NBA, he explains that there is an affinity for the sport and hence the association is keen to further its presence in the country. NBA games are telecast live on the Sony Pictures Network India (SPN) through its cluster of sports channels. The games have seen a steady rise in viewership, even though the timings are not conducive to viewing for everyone in the audience. NBA matches are usually telecast early morning India time.
Recently, BMS has also ventured into international sports ticketing. It has the rights to the Sri Lanka cricket board matches and the Caribbean Premier League. With its increased focus on sports ticketing and events, the company has managed to grow the international sports ticketing revenue by 3x last year. In FY18, international sports events accounted for 10 per cent of the sports revenue, which grew to 30 per cent in FY19.
With its sharpened focus on live events and entertainment, the company will also enter partnerships at promoter level. In case of Disney’s musical theatre projects, BMS is a co-producer. Similarly, it has partnered with NBA. However, in the first year of the partnership, the focus will be on ticket sales, and hence they will account for the total revenue.