Last week, the producers of the 25th edition of the James Bond starrer — No Time to Die — decided to postpone the release which was scheduled on April 2, 2020. The reason behind the postponing of the much-awaited movie was none another than the novel coronavirus and Covid-19 epidemic. So far, the disease caused by the coronavirus, Covid-19, has taken over three thousand lives and has impacted over 110K individuals across the world. With over 45 cases tested positive for Covid-19, the situation is so brisk in India that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also urged Indians to avoid mass gatherings and attending events.
Like the latest James Bond flick, hundreds of scheduled movies and events in India are either getting cancelled or postponed because of coronavirus. Hence, the effect of coronavirus can also be seen impacting the business of events organisers and Bollywood producers and of course of the platforms — BookMyShow, Paytm Insider, and EventsHigh — which brought the attendees to the events or movie halls. But who is bearing the losses that come with the cancelled events?
While ticketing platforms earn revenue through various sources such as advertisements, in-app promotions and other channels, the major contributor of revenue still remains commission which they earn by selling tickets. As a precautionary measure, much-attended events such as Ultra Music Festival (UMF), Delhi Literature Festival, India Fashion Week have either been postponed or cancelled in response to coronavirus outbreak. Tickets for these events are mostly sold online. Internationally, SXSW conference and Coachella are some of the massive global events to have been hit.
Colourless Holi Due To Coronavirus
But the coronavirus threat comes at a time when India is busy partying for Holi.
In the recent past, celebrations around Holi have gone from neighbourhood parties to full-blown public events whose tickets are often sold on BookMyShow, Paytm Insider, and EventsHigh. This trend quite common in metros, but with cases of coronavirus registered in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Jaipur and Delhi, the fear has led to parties being cancelled.
For instance, Surajgarh Gurgaon’s Holy Moly event was scheduled to be held on March 10, 2020. The tickets of the event were selling exclusively on BookMyShow Speaking to Inc42, Vishal Bhardwaj, who was handling marketing for the event, said there was no option but to cancel the event due to coronavirus outbreak. “We were getting calls from people asking for a refund. As these are our customers, we can’t let them down so we decided to cancel,” he added.
As the event was cancelled by the organising company, Bhardwaj said that BookMyShow is going to charge them with a fee. “Of course, they will charge us the convenience fee and other fees,” Bhardwaj noted.
In response to the Inc42’s queries, a BookMyShow spokesperson refused to share the impact of the outbreak on the business but said that the company fulfils the role of a ticketing aggregator for all live events and movies listed on the platform. “Any decision regarding the upholding/cancellation/postponement of any event or a film, due to any reason, comes directly under the purview of the organisers and producers,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson further added that in case of any event cancellations or rescheduling of movie releases, BookMyShow will follow all due procedures to ensure no inconvenience is caused to our valued customers. “We are closely monitoring the situation and will take all necessary precautions to upkeep consumers’ safety and experience,” the spokesperson added.
The company did not say whether it would be refunding these fees as the cancellations have occurred due to a public health situation. But the response does indicate that ticketing platforms may not be able to compensate the losses that event organisers and movie producers will bear. Our queries to Paytm Insider and EventsHigh didn’t elicit a response till the time of publication.