Alibaba-Backed Paytm Gets Into Movie Theater Tickets—But They Have Bigger Things In Mind

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India payments powerhouse—and Alibaba-financed—Paytm has cut a deal with India’s largest multiplex movie theater chain (PVR) to sell movie tickets in mobile and online. Why make the move now, with physical movie theaters a quickly dying industry? Those tickets will unleash a lot more one night at the cinema.

Let’s take a quick look at the deal itself, courtesy of respected Indian newspaper The Hindu. The move will have Paytm competing with Bookmyshow.com, a major movie ticket sales site from Bigtree Entertainment.

“The current size of movie ticketing market in India is $2 billion and growing 10 per cent annually,” the story said. “The on-line movie marketing is just 15 per cent and Paytm said it is looking to double the share of online-movie ticketing market in quick time and has set aggressive targets, with its base of over 125 million registered users and 90 million orders per month.”

But this brings us back to the initial question: Why make a movie theater play now, when even the most aggressive movie industry defenders concede that the shared physical viewing of films will surrender to the better pricing and much stronger convenience of watching films at home or via mobile devices? (See our Green Dot Uber story for what happens when increased convenience is married with better pricing.)

It’s a smart move. Once shoppers have completed the digital movie transition, mobile payment options will surround them, assuming they haven’t already paid Amazon or Netflix directly. But by tying in physical movie payments with Paytm, they are making the mobile connection in a physical context. When those consumers make the inevitable move to a more digital experience, the account and the mindset will already be established.

Better yet, Paytm will know the entertainment habits/choices made by those consumers, allowing for very effective marketing moves later. Offering an ad that promises 10 percent off a 24-hour movie rental is barely worth clicking on. But if the ad says “That new (insert name of your favorite actress) movie is available tomorrow. Click here and it will be paid for and will be ready for download as of midnight. And it’s only $X for existing movie customers of Paytm who have already seen two (name of actress again) of her films. Fans of hers like you deserve better pricing, don’t you think?”

Moving into digital purchases is smart. But hooking up with physical purchases to position yourself better for digital purchases? That’s PF-level brilliant.

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