India’s Bigtree Entertainment Pvt Ltd, owner of online movie and events ticketing portal BookMyShow, said it had raised 5.5 billion rupees ($81.63 million) in funding from a group of investors, led by U.S.-based private equity Stripes Group.

The company, which is now valued at Rs 30 billion /($444 million), plans to use the funds to transform the ticketing portal into an entertainment platform.

BookMyShow originally started as a movie ticketing portal but has expanded its offerings to sports, live events and plays. It is present in 350 towns and cities across the country and has also entered international markets including Indonesia, the UAE, New Zealand and Sri Lanka.

“Already the clear leader in movie and live event ticketing, BookMyShow is uniquely positioned to tap into India’s digital advertising and entertainment markets, which are among the fastest growing globally,” said Stripes Group Managing Partner Dan Marriott.

This is the company’s fourth and largest financing round, which also saw the participation of existing investors Network 18, Accel Partners and SAIF Partners. “These funds will be utilised towards rolling out exclusive entertainment experiences on BookMyShow, enhancing the overall offering for our users, while we hopefully build out a 360 degree gateway of entertainment in India,” BookMyShow co-founder and CEO Ashish Hemrajani said.

BookMyShow plans to use the new funds to develop its content offerings, which currently include an online entertainment database with profiles of the cast and crew; videos in form of reviews, trailers and news; as well as user-generated movie reviews and ratings. Its growth strategy will also emphasise on consolidating its position in existing international markets, rather than rapidly expanding to new ones. They are also open to acquisitions, especially in the fields of big data analytics and social media.

“We want to create an entertainment destination with newer audiences” Hirarajanai says. “Ticketing is where we have grown this business from. It will be an important vertical, but only one of the verticals.” Through this, it plans to drive user engagement and drive advertising sales.

BookMyShow currently gets 55-60% of its revenues from movie ticketing, while the remaining 40% is split between advertising and sales from sports and live events and varies at different times of the year. The average transaction for movie tickets remains between Rs 500-550 ($7.4-8.1), with users buying three tickets in a single transaction on average. While a bulk of its revenues still comes from India’s metropolitan cities, the company is betting on smaller cities and towns for long-term growth, focusing on India’s older single-screen theatres.

“We are uniquely positioned. There is no market that so entertainment-driven in terms of movies or so uni-dimensional in terms of sport, i.e. cricket,” Hemrajani said. “Our demographic is unique. I also don’t see any other example of movie ticketing and non-movie ticketing being done by a single company.”

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