Qube Cinema : Building new strategies to drive growth

Qube Cinema has redrawn its strategy after its merger with UFO Moviez failed to materialise. The focus now is to develop new technology products and services which has been the forte and core strength of Qube. Harsh Rohatgi, CEO of Qube Cinema is today spearheading operation at Qube and focussed on growing the business in India and the emerging markets. Harsh shares his game plan in an exclusive interview to Broadcast & Film.

Q1. The UFO Moviez-Qube Cinema merger deal is off the table as NCLAT nod came too late. Is there any possibility of Qube Cinema exploring the merger option in the future?

The merger plan has been off for some time now, and we have moved ahead with other strategic priorities. The current focus of Qube Cinema is on developing new technology products and services for the cinema industry. This has always been our forte and we are looking to take this to the next level with unique products, two of which have already been launched in 2019. The first being Qube WireTAP, a cloud-connected, in-theatre appliance that allows automated delivery of DCPs and KDMs directly to theatres worldwide over broadband and satellite IP networks. Our latest offering is our Premium Large Format technology called EPIQ. Our plans for the future include the roll-out of these and other exciting products

Q2. There is a huge focus on untapped markets for cinema, as the industry seeks to grow. The obvious ones are countries like Saudi Arabia which is opening its first cinema screen. There are countries in the Middle East, Latin and Central America and South East Asia which are untapped in the truest sense, offering huge potential. Does Qube Cinema have a game plan to explore opportunities in these markets?

The global market is definitely opening up and there is a huge potential in these markets. Qube currently has a presence in 135 countries and we plan to expand our presence significantly in the near future. Our innovative product and services offerings are taking us in that direction. In fact, we are planning to launch a couple of new products by mid of next year which will cater to global requirements.

Q3. How are the prospects for growth in the Indian cinema exhibition industry?

Indian cinema exhibition industry is looking at a major revamp in the near future to bring in more audiences to the cinemas. Exhibitors have to think differently to offer audiences the next level in terms of experiences like building Premium Large Format screens like the EPIQ, LED screens for premium picture quality, and QUAKE, the technology that adds an extra dimension of kinaesthetic immersive experience for the audiences. New technologies will enhance viewer experiences to enable the exhibition industry to grow and keep ahead of the threats from the OTT.

Q4. Cinema advertising is expected to touch 1200 crores. How is Qube looking at growing its cinema advertising business?

We always believed cinema advertising has a huge potential and a testimonial to our belief is our network of over 3200 screens on which clients can advertise their products. We now have a new, young and energetic team with fresh ideas with a focus on national & retail advertising. We are also exploring the possibilities of off-screen advertising in the lobbies of cinemas for specific target-based campaigns. We are also in strategic discussions with agencies to maximize the usage of advertising time throughout the year.

Q5. The EPIQ PLF format launched by Qube saw its first installation in the South? How do you look at the growth of the PLF format in India?

Qube’s first EPIQ screen, V EPIQ was launched at Sullurpet on August 29, 2019. The home of V EPIQ is a town near Nellore, Andhra Pradesh with a screen size of 100 ft x 54 ft. Sullurpet has a huge catchment area, with Sriharikota and Sri City being close by; and it is also a comfortable drive from Chennai, Nellore & Tirupati. The first two movies Saaho and Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy have had an overwhelming response and recorded 90% and 93% average occupancy in the first 10 days. Nearly one lakh people have watched movies in the complex that have a total capacity of 1000 seats in 3 screens, in the first 45 days. In fact, since its launch, the screens have recorded an average of 72% occupancy during weekends.

Qube Cinema unveiled EPIQ, its Premium Large Format screen with an immersive experience that is the first of its kind in India. The first EPIQ screen, the largest in South Asia, was launched on August 29, 2019 at the V EPIQ Theatre at Sullurpet, Andhra Pradesh

Q6. What do you see as the challenges and the opportunities that lie ahead for Qube Cinema?

The most obvious challenge currently faced by all sectors is the impact of the economic slowdown. It has an impact on the cinema industry too and in the form of lower investments by clients on promotional activities such as advertising. This affects us directly but we believe that it is only a passing phase.

With Qube focusing more on developing new technology-based products for Indian and global markets, the potential for growth and expansion is huge. The launch of the EPIQ PLF format and the success of the first installation have paved the way for future prospects. Qube Wire has made major inroads into developing markets like Africa as well as mature markets like Australia and New Zealand. Our launch of mid-2019, Qube WireTAP already has over 250 installations worldwide and in the coming year see significant growth.

Q7. The broadcast market has been in a state of flux… What is the strategy to grow the business for the technology marketing division? How do you foresee the future of the broadcast market in India?

Qube Technology Marketing Division is expanding in new directions too. We see business growth and opportunity in the coming years with many broadcasters expanding their business to OTT platforms. We are currently partnering with a few new products catering to OTT to provide appropriate solutions and services to our broadcast clients. With our expertise, experience and existing relationship with broadcasters, we hope to see significant growth in this sector too.