Multiplexes rush in to show the World Cup

MUMBAI: Faced with a fall in occupancies and revenues, multiplexes are rushing in to catch the last pieces of the cricket World Cup script that Dhoni and his ‘Men in Blue‘ will hopefully continue to write till the end.

Inox Leisure is in talks with ESPN Star Sports, the broadcast rights holder of the World Cup, to screen the last three matches that would include the classic India-Pakistan duel on 30 March.

"Something might transpire early next week and we may still show the matches," said Inox Leisure chief executive officer Alok Tandon.

ESPN Star Sports, in fact, got its way to do a fixed fee deal with Cinemax. The multiplex chain had resisted such a deal in the initial stages of the World Cup, asking for a revenue-share model along the lines of the one stitched by PVR. An alternate content strategy did not boost audiences and Cinemax won a deal for screening the World Cup matches since the quarter-final stage.

Says Cinemax CEO Sunil Punjabi, "Things have dramatically changed now. We did a fixed fee per match deal with ESPN Star Sports."

For the multiplexes, the pressure has been building up. PVR Cinemas was the first to strike a 50:50 revenue share deal with ESPN Star Sports and started showing all the India-related World Cup matches since 27 February. ESPN Star Sports, however, insisted on a minimum guarantee structure from the other multiplexes.

Has it paid to bow down to the commercial terms set by ESPN Star Sports?

“We have got an overwhelming response, recording three houseful bookings across our properties. Other centres too recorded more than 60 per cent footfalls. On an average, we had a total occupancy between 24 and 25 per cent. For the remaining matches, our expectancy is 45 per cent, ” says Punjabi.

Cinemax has decided to screen both the semi-finals and the final match. “We are getting a good response. We already have three confirmed block bookings and are expecting more by Monday from corporate houses and social groups. The consumer demand has been fairly decent,” says Punjabi.

Cinemax has decided to up its rates by Rs 100 for the cricket matches. It will charge Rs 400 for the matches in its A and AAA class properties like the Versova property for regulars and Rs 500 for recliners. In the other properties, the rates would be Rs 300 for regulars and Rs 500 for recliners.

Even with the screening of the cricket matches, the multiplexes will see their fiscal‘s fourth-quarter revenues impacted as no big film releases are taking place during the World Cup.

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