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Creative Europe Desk Poland explores the global and local reach of VoD platforms


- The panel from the online conference showcased leading platforms which are aiming to survive after the pandemic, reach new audiences and curate their content

Creative Europe Desk Poland explores the global and local reach of VoD platforms
The panellists during the discussion

The second panel from the special international online conference dedicated to the European VoD market, organised by Creative Europe Desk Poland (see the news on the first panel), showcased some platforms with local character but a global impact, as they reach out to a wider audience. Moderated by Cineuropa’s Ola Salwa, the first question was about the effect that the last few months had on each of the participants.

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Olle Agebro, programmer for the Göteborg Film Festival, mentioned that through the festival’s VoD platform Draken Film, of which he is the head of acquisitions, the festival experience is expanded all year round beyond Göteborg and to whole Sweden, where the content is geo-locked. The selected films are closely related to the festival picks, but they also include classics and arthouse titles selected by and from other festivals. In the past six months, the number of subscribers has increased by 300% and Draken has offered a part of these revenues to support local cinemas in need.

Sanam Gharagozlou, global partnerships manager at MUBI, explained how the global streaming service is offering one handpicked film to its audience every day. The site saw immense growth since March, and the number of subscribers doubled from the beginning of the year, while the number of viewings has tripled, forcing MUBI to expand internationally. Since the platform also acts as distributor and producer, it has partnered with cinemas to offer their audience a free trial subscription in the past months, which brought on a big uptake in audience numbers.

Filmin, a leading local player that operates in Spain, Portugal and Mexico, was presented by its co-founder, Jaume Ripoll. The platform works both with subscriptions and transactionally. Thanks to its shareholders, who are distributors and producers, it has a rich library featuring more than 40,000 titles. The number of deals made during COVID were doubled, but the real issues will appear in the next months, when people might not be able to afford to keep their subscriptions, Ripoll mentioned.

A different approach is followed by FilmDoo, as the platform bridges film content with edtech. Its CEO Weerada Sucharitkul mentioned that the pandemic outbreak coincided with the launch of an educational tool that allows people to learn foreign languages by watching films. Having new deals for educational rights, the films are turned into interactive lessons, where tutors can guide their students through a game to answer questions and use the film as homework. The platform has partnered with language schools and universities to use FilmDoo’s library, and the lessons can be done online or in physical environments. Sucharitkul underlined that the platform offers an edu-taininment complementary tool, combining education and entertainment, which helps create a more natural and engaging approach to language. Since older films are harder to market and promote, this technique also creates a new audience.

The French platform LaCinetek, meanwhile, is entirely dedicated to the greatest movies of the 20th century. Its general manager Jean-Baptiste Viaud explained how more than 90 directors from around the world have already picked their favourite films and created lists for the platform, which viewers may follow and consume. The content is offered in five countries already, with Belgium and Luxembourg being the latest additions. The pandemic panic almost doubled the number of SVOD subscribers, from 10,000 to 17,000, and the platform also saw a big increase on the TVoD front.

Regarding the question on building audiences and whether festivals or cinemas might be a “threat” to the platforms’ survival, all panellists agreed that collaboration is the most needed element. Draken Film is collaborating with other festivals and cinemas which curate some of its sections. Moreover, the platform organises retrospectives of directors whose films are currently in release in order to bring its subscribers to cinemas, and it also offers tickets for selected titles to support local theatres and distributors. This scheme is similar to MUBI GO in the UK, which restarted in September, with Gharagozlou mentioning that it should soon be expanded to Germany. As for festivals, MUBI always collaborates with them and acquires titles screened there because festivals offer great exposure for future distribution, as happened with Magnus von Horn’s Sweat [+see also:
film review
interview: Magnus von Horn
film profile
, which won in Chicago.

Filmin also collaborates with major Spanish festivals, such as Gijón and Seville among others, featuring their selections on the platform for a limited time and / or with a limited number of views. The platform also acquires films from festivals, and promotes titles through its own festival, Atlàntida, before their theatrical release and before they become available on VoD. Ripoll stressed that it was very difficult for a platform operating in a big market to acquire big titles, as the high MGs can’t be recuperated solely by subscriptions.

The platforms also aim to differentiate themselves from bigger competitors with a specialised curation. LaCinetek follows a more editorial line and, apart from the directors’ lists, offers content through monthly suggestions, special spotlights on themes or film movements and its newly added titles. In that way, viewers do not simply follow lists but instead have a wider overview of recommendations.

The Filmin Times gives viewers a chance to navigate contemporary European history through cinema, delineated either by important historical events or by landmarks related to film history. Apart from regular viewers and cinephiles, the selection is also used as an educational tool in classes. As for MUBI, Notebook is an integral part of its curation, as it becomes a guide and an in-depth destination for the curation that the platform already does daily.

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