It is a long-standing debate whether OTTs will kill the theatre business in India. But it looks like multiplex chain operator PVR and UK-headquartered MUBI, a streaming service dedicated to films only, think otherwise.
Both the players have partnered to launch the cinema-going initiative called MUBI GO in India on November 27.
As part of a MUBI subscription, members will now receive one complimentary ticket every week to see a film that has been hand-picked by MUBI, in any PVR Cinema, via the MUBI GO app. MUBI GO users will be able to redeem tickets for the selected films at any PVR cinema across India. The same will be valid in the classic seat category at all mainstream auditoriums. The MUBI GO app will list PVR cinema schedules for the current ‘Film of the Week’, based on user locations.
For MUBI, subscription plans include an introductory price of Rs 199 for the first three months. After that, users will have to pay Rs 499 a month or Rs 4,788 for 12 months.
Pricing could be a matter of concern for MUBI, especially if it is looking to go deeper and wider in India. Even Netflix brought down its prices by launching its mobile-only plan for Rs 199 a month.
With MUBI planning to enter regional markets in the next one year, pricing will be a key factor for the platform to consider.
But when it comes to content addition on its platform, it has signed deals with the National Film Archive of India, Shemaroo and is ready to shell out money as it is betting on India.
Speaking to Moneycontrol on the sidelines of the event, Efe Cakarel, Founder and CEO of MUBI, said, "In the beginning of our India journey we will be pumping in money to buy film titles. Globally, we more than doubled our revenue and we are cash-flow positive. It is a healthy business and generating profits. Hence, MUBI can invest in India."
Plus, MUBI will also step into the production side business in India, after having done the same in the US and Europe.
"We have to get into production in the long run. We have to produce our own movies. What drives our business is newer films on our platform," Cakarel added.
Currently, MUBI has two segments --- MUBI World that offers international films and its recent addition called MUBI India which is dedicated to Indian cinema.
Cakarel, who will be travelling to Chennai to know more about the southern film market, hopes to start a new channel just for Tamil films.
On the back of strong content, Cakarel expects to register a user base of up to two million in the span of two years.
In addition, Kamal Gianchadani, CEO, PVR Pictures, said that while initially the top 10 cities will be the main market for MUBI, the platform will also penetrate smaller towns.
While MUBI has a lot to benefit from PVR, a question that remains is how will the new partnership prove fruitful for PVR?
According to Gianchadani, OTT has not been cannibalising negative effect on cinema.
"Last year was the biggest year in terms of box office for cinema and this year is turning out to be record breaking. In fact, OTT has become positive cycle. OTT is another revenue stream. Producers are making money and they in turn are making bigger and better films," he said.
He also pointed out another important fact that in the film business in India, 60 percent of the revenue is coming from theatres, which are growing in India. Hence, OTTs are no threat and they will co-exist with cinema.