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"Nos gusta la idea de tener una oferta de películas, pero también la posibilidad de conocer a los artistas"

Informe de industria: Animación

Adrien Desanges • Cofundador, Benshi

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El cofundador de la plataforma de streaming francesa nos cuenta su misión, su estrategia de programación y sus actividades en el Cartoon Movie de este año

Adrien Desanges • Cofundador, Benshi

Este artículo está disponible en inglés.

At this year’s Cartoon Movie (8-10 March), we had the chance to sit down with Adrien Desanges, co-founder of French streaming service Benshi. During our conversation, we chatted about the SVOD platform’s core values and mission, its activities at the pitching forum and their approach to curation.

Cineuropa: Could you please talk through the activities of the platform?
Adrien Desanges:
Benshi is an SVOD platform, fully dedicated to arthouse cinema for children, typically aged 3-11. We’re distributing our content as an OTT service, and through different channels and operators across the whole country. Our customers may pay a flat monthly subscription, or purchase a six month or yearly plan. Most of the titles are European productions, I’d say the vast majority. We host features, short- and medium-length films as well as some series. The catalogue includes 250 titles.

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What type of content are you looking for here at Cartoon Movie?
The idea is to hear the voice of the producers, to understand how animated features are going to look like in the next four, five or six years. We want to talk to the people who are producing the films we want to broadcast in the next few years. We’re not trying to buy content, at least not in the short term. We are aiming to create a link with the creators to talk about their projects, and evaluate them in the long-term perspective. If we speak about a movie like Rémi Chayé’s Calamity, a Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary [+lee también:
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, we see that today a French distributor doesn’t have the financial capacity and resources of, let’s say, Disney, so it struggles to intercept wider audiences at the theatres. At Benshi, we host a French, family-orientated community, and we’re offering this type of titles all year round. Here, the idea is to discuss these new movies, look at their stories, their visuals, and by doing so, we can promote the films way before they hit cinemas. We can create some buzz around them.

How do you think the European VOD market is reacting?
It’s hard to answer this question in European terms. I’d say that in France what we call VOD – meaning the digital purchase or rent of a single film – is clearly not working. It’s really hard to develop this type of business in the current context. SVOD is clearly a good place to be. The main question, now, is about AVOD. We’re not planning on implementing such a model on Benshi. We enjoy the idea of providing a family service without ads. This is clearly a value for the customer. But, I know that Disney is trying to add an AVOD service in the US... If everyone starts doing AVOD, this could be a major change. If not, SVOD will remain an interesting business to work in, with no major changes in sight. As for Benshi, we aim to be streamed across Europe, or at least in some other countries. I think we’ll get there in 2023. The process has already started but it’ll take some time.

What animated genres and formats do you believe are on the rise?
At Benshi, we like the idea of films and cinema offering, as well as the urgency of meeting with an artist. Obviously, today’s audiences, including families, really enjoy watching series with a number of episodes starring the same character, so we’re being receptive to this demand and we’re trying to find shows that offer the same value as our movies. We want to choose products with a good level of variety across episodes. You know, children’s series tend to feature episodes that look too similar to each other, with the same plot being developed over and over again... [For example], you have a villain, he might change [episode after episode], but the storyline remains the same. We’re trying to find series where each episode is a surprise. In any case, the core idea of Benshi will remain to tell the world we’re a great place for family-orientated films and series.

Did you notice any audience shifts occurring throughout the pandemic?
We’ve small figures, around 12,000 subscribers in total. It’s hard to record trends. We’re learning our job day by day, it’s a new business. I wouldn't say there’ve been major changes, though. I know many are talking about how viewers keep on switching between the different VOD services – Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, etc. - but we don’t suffer from this.

So you’d say your audience is small but loyal...
Yes. We have loyal customers, because we focus on curation. It’s a key aspect to retaining them. We hope it will continue to be so.

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