Case No. 08 of 2016. Case: Justickets Pvt. Ltd. Vs Big Tree Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. and Ors.. Competition Commision of India

Case Number:Case No. 08 of 2016
Party Name:Justickets Pvt. Ltd. Vs Big Tree Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. and Ors.
Judges:Devender Kumar Sikri, Chairperson, S.L. Bunker, Sudhir Mital, Augustine Peter, U.C. Nahta, Members and G.P. Mittal, J. (Member)
Issue:Competition Act, 2002 - Sections 19(1)(a), 2(h), 26(1), 26(2), 27, 3, 3(4), 3(4)(d), 4, 4(2)(c), 4(2)(e), 48
Judgement Date:March 10, 2017
Court:Competition Commision of India
 
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Order:

  1. M/s. Justickets Pvt. Ltd. ('Informant') has filed the present information under Section 19(1)(a) of the Competition Act, 2002 ('Act') against M/s. Big Tree Entertainment Private Limited ('OP-1') and M/s. Vista Entertainment Solutions Limited ('OP-2') alleging contravention of the provisions of Section 3 and 4 of the Act.

  2. As per the information, the Informant (formerly known as Digital Box Office India Pvt. Ltd.), is engaged in the business of online movie ticketing since December 2013 mainly in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, through its website https://www.justickets.in. It also has a box office software called 'Quick Tickets' that is provided to movie theatres free of cost, for selling tickets at the counter and also for the purpose of interfacing with the Justickets website or with any other movie ticketing website.

  3. OP-1 is a company incorporated in India and is inter alia engaged in the provision of online movie ticketing through its website "BookMyShow.com" (BMS). It earns revenue through its online movie ticketing business by charging a convenience fee on the tickets sold through its website. OP-2 is a company incorporated in New Zealand. It is a global leader in box office ticketing solutions and supplies box office ticketing software "Vista", which can be synchronized with the online ticketing websites through an Application Programme Interface (API). API enables the online ticketing platform to integrate with the Vista software for seamless data and information flow between the ticketing website/application and the Vista software at specific sites/screens. OP-1 is the only distributor for Vista box office software in India.

  4. It is averred that OP-1 through BMS has been operating in the online movie ticketing space since 2007 and is a prominent player having a market share of approximately 90%. In the financial year 2014-15, out of 4 billion movie tickets sold in India for approximately 10,000 screens, BMS sold 50 million tickets in its addressable market of 500 million tickets for 2,700 screens. Recently, it also acquired Ticketgreen.com, a movie ticketing portal with a box office solution that carries out operations in the southern part of India having tie-ups with more than 100 cinemas for online ticket sales. OP-2, who is the supplier of Vista box office software, is stated to have 68% of market share in India. It is submitted that approximately 95% of the theatres across India (including multiplexes) using Vista are on the BMS portal. Also, most of the leading multiplex chains in India such as PVR, Cinepolis and Inox, utilise the BMS portal. The only multiplex chain that currently does not use the BMS portal is SPI Cinemas, which has its own online ticketing portal.

  5. It is stated that in the financial year 2014-15, OP-1 sold approximately 50 million tickets earning revenue of INR 76.56 crore, while its major competitors such as Ticketnew.com and Informant sold 7 million and 3 million tickets and reported revenues of INR 9 crore and INR 1.88 crore respectively, for the same period. Thus, the combined market share of the competitors of OP-1 was less than 10% in the market for online movie ticket sales.

  6. Further, it is averred that OP-1 is funded by prominent investors like Network 18, a media entertainment network. Even international investors like SAIF Partners and Accel Partners have funded OP-1 to the tune of around INR 300 crore through multiple rounds of funding. As BMS is the only online ticketing portal available to customers in most parts of India, therefore, consumers have a certain level of dependency on OP-1.

  7. It is averred that OP-2 having a market share of 38% globally and approximately 68% in the Indian market, is a dominant player in the market for box office ticketing solutions, in relation to multiplexes and large cinema chains. Majority of theatres such as PVR, Cinepolis, Wave Cinemas, Fun Cinemas and Miraj Entertainment use Vista box office ticketing software.

  8. In view of the above facts, it is alleged that OP-1 and OP-2 are dominant in the market for online movie ticketing portals in India and market for box office ticketing solutions in India, respectively. Further, it is alleged that since OP-1 is the exclusive distributor of OP-2 for the distribution of Vista in India, therefore, OP-1 through OP-2 is also dominant in the market for box office ticketing solutions.

  9. It is alleged that OP-1 is abusing its dominant position by creating barriers for online movie ticketing portals from getting access to Vista API. In this regard, the Informant has submitted that OP-1 is leveraging its strong market position in box office ticketing software (acquired through exclusive distributorship agreement with OP-2) to protect the market position of BMS in the market for online movie ticketing portals in India by ensuring that OP-2 does not enter into agreements with Informant for Vista API. Further, OP-2's conduct of adopting an arbitrary policy of not granting access to Vista API to other online ticketing portals is also alleged to be abusive. Thus, the Informant has alleged abuse of dominance by each of the OPs in violation of Sections 4(2)(c) and 4(2)(e) of the Act.

  10. In addition to the above, the Informant has alleged that as Vista is used for movie ticket bookings in a majority of multi-screen cinema theatres in India, it is an essential facility for the growth and expansion of online movie ticketing portals. In the facts of the case, the Informant has averred that OPs are not allowing Justickets access to Vista API for specific theatres, despite such theatres wanting to be on Justickets platform and having arrived at a commercial arrangement with it. Resultantly, the conduct of OP-1 and OP-2 in refusing to provide Vista API to the Informant or providing the same on case to case basis but with much delay, is alleged to amount to refusal to deal in violation of Section 3(4)(d) of the Act.

  11. The Commission has perused the information, responses of the opposite parties and all material available on record. Also, the parties were heard on 14.09.2016.

  12. From the information, it is apparent that the Informant has alleged dominance of OP-1 and OP-2 in the two relevant markets i.e., (i) Market for online movie ticketing portals in India and (ii) Market for box office ticketing solutions in India, respectively. Further, dominance of OP-1 through OP-2 in the market for box office ticketing solutions in India is also alleged.

  13. So far as the first relevant market is concerned, OP-1 has contended that the same has been incorrectly defined as there is no difference between the online and offline market which are merely two different channels of distribution. Further, it is argued that there is no distinction between market for single screen and multiplex screen cinemas as ticketing portals operate for both multiplexes and single screens. Thus, the relevant market in the present case is the market for sale of movie tickets in India. OP-2 has stated that since it is a provider of comprehensive software to cinemas, there is no reason to define the relevant market for Vista to be the market for online ticketing solutions. At best relevant market in the present case would be the market for box office software provided to cinemas in India.

  14. On dominance, OP-1 has submitted that it cannot be dominant in the market for the sale of movie tickets in India as for the purpose of assessment of dominance, both single screen and multiplex screens have to be taken into consideration. In such a market, OP-1's market share based on the number of screens for which it provides tickets would at most be ≤ 25%. This estimated market share would be significantly diluted if it is considered that all sale of movie tickets for these cinemas is not through BMS portal and these screens use alternate online and offline methods for sale of movie tickets as well. It has been further argued that, notwithstanding the market share, OP-1 still cannot operate independently of the market forces as ultimately the sale of tickets is controlled by cinemas which exert significant countervailing buying power and also because the market is extremely dynamic with multiple players constantly entering the market. Further, OP-1 has contended that it cannot be dominant in the relevant market for box office ticketing solutions because it is only a non-exclusive distributor of the Vista Software and does not own the software or the API.

  15. In the context of alleged dominance, OP-2 has denied the submission of the Informant that it is a global leader in box office ticketing software. It has submitted that 38% market share does not make Vista a market leader and that there are other players in the global market for box office ticketing software. Further, Vista software is not exclusive to movie theatres and can be installed by other entities. In any case, OP-2 has stated that dominance needs to be established in the relevant geographic market which is India. OP-2 has submitted that the data provided by the Informant which shows that it has a market share of 68% on the basis of multiplex screens is incorrect even at face value and does not establish Vista's dominance. It is submitted that in order to assess Vista's market share the notion of addressable market on which such market share has been computed is not correct as Vista software is provided to all types of cinemas - including multiplex and single screens. In such a market scenario, the total market size would include all screens in India. Assuming the same to be approximately 10000 screens, it would imply that Vista has an approximate share of 15-20%. Considering this and the fact that the cinema theatres can easily switch from one software to another with minimal cost and effort, Vista cannot be deemed to be dominant.

  16. It is noted that with respect to alleged abuse by the OPs, the Informant has stated that, generally, box office ticketing...

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