Technology

UK's Mubi partners with India's biggest cinema operator

UK's Mubi partners with India's biggest cinema operator

Mubi, a UK-based curated movie streaming service, is breaking into India’s booming entertainment market through a partnership with the country’s largest operator of multi-screen theatres PVR Ltd.

Subscribers to Mubi will gain access to its films and free admission to one movie a week selected by the streaming service at any PVR cinema, Mubi Founder and Chief Executive Officer Efe Cakarel said in an interview. The introductory offer is Rs199 ($2.80) for 3 months, then Rs499 a month thereafter, he said.

The alliance between an exhibitor and a streamer is the first of its kind in India, where the spread of broadband access and a love of films has Netflix Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and local competitors battling for subscribers. Rivals including Walt Disney Co.’s Hotstar are pouring money into local productions and sports broadcast rights to gain market share, even as subscriptions are offered at a fraction of what they typically cost in other countries.

“We are going to lose money for the foreseeable future,” said Cakarel. “But the end game is very attractive. That is the reason why Amazon and Netflix are burning so much of money in India.”

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Mubi’s service is different from most rivals in that it offers only 30 films at any given time, with each available for viewing only for 30 days. The formula has attracted 9 million subscribers around the world, Cakarel said.

PVR, which has 821 screens at 172 properties across 70 cities in India and Sri Lanka, said streaming services can work together with exhibitors, rather than undermine them.

India’s video-on-demand market could grow to $5 billion by 2023 from $500 million last year, according to researcher Boston Consulting Group. Paying subscribers will probably rise to as many as 50 million, while users of advertising-supported video-on-demand will reach 600 million, BCG predicts.

The partnership with Mubi is “extremely collaborative,” said Kamal Gianchadani, CEO of unit PVR Pictures. He said in an interview that the deal will bring more people to theatres and help boost revenue from food and drinks.