MUBI, the global curated film streaming service, has been in the process of rolling out its platform to multiple countries and today, at the TechCrunch Italy conference in Rome, it launches its service in Italy (here) and also goes live on the MUBI iPad. The launch brings the number of countries served by MUBI to ten, including the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Norway, Australia and New Zealand. Each country has a localized film library (with original language and local subtitles). Their service is very simple by design: there is no search, recommendations and large catalogs which can sometimes confuse users. MUBI says it is different to Netflix and all the other Video on Demand streaming services out there, in that it uses film experts to handpick its daily output library, which is available at €4.99 per month. Founder Efe Cakarel says he thinks "only Netflix and MUBI will eventually win, and everybody else (including telco's) will get squeezed out." Why is this? Well, take the case of Telenor, the incumbent telco in Scandinavia. Two weeks ago it announced it was getting out of the VOD business. And in the case of services like Lovefilm or wuaki.tv, they are coming under pressure from Netflix because they provide an identical service without the benefit of Netflix’s guaranteed economies of scale. By contrast MUBI's pitch is that it complements the Netflix experience rather than competes with it, focusing on quality rather than quantity and simplicity. Cakarel says this emphasis on simplicity has lead to greater conversion rates. "Since we launched this model, we see conversion from signup to trial (with a credit card) of 20% compared with 0.8% before, when we had an offering like Netflix. That's an unbelievable number that is now statistically significant. 20 out of 100 people who signup to MUBI give us their credit card within 7 days. We grew our paying subscribers by 90% over the past 6 months in UK, our biggest market," he told me. And that's with zero advertising dollars. That said, the streaming game is not over yet, and newer upstairs like wuaki.tv are doing their damnedest to prove a hybrid model of subscription mixed with a-la-carte can work in this space.
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