Turkish entrepreneur wins over Netflix in China
Ahmet Can - ISTANBUL/LONDONAs the competitiveness among global online film platforms becomes fiercer, Turkish-born entrepreneur Efe Çakarel did what Netflix could not by entering the Chinese market with his company MUBI this month.
Online film platform giant Netflix currently operates in 130 countries, including Turkey, but China is not among these. MUBI founder and CEO Çakarel entered the Chinese market with a $50-million-investment from Hong Kong-based media company Huanxi, which has enabled MUBI’s worth to increase to $125 million.
When asked about the secret of his success, MIT and Stanford-graduate Çakarel said the rapid growth rate in the Chinese film sector, which is anticipated to surpass that in the U.S., is the secret behind his move.
“Based on the box office revenues, the U.S. film market grew by 4-5 percent last year while this growth was 40 percent in the Chinese market. With these figures, China will surpass the U.S. film market in only one year. The demand for online film platforms is rising accordingly in line with these high box office revenues. From this perspective, the world’s second-biggest economy, China, stands as a unique market,” said Çakarel.
“TV-oriented Netflix’s film archive is composed of very ordinary films. However, MUBI has a special selection of independent and awarded, cult and classic films which offers a niche service for the movie audience,” said Çakarel, when asked about what makes MUBI different from Netflix.
“We believe that MUBI will reach a huge viewer base in China with what it offers, putting aside the fact that it entered China before Netflix and did so very strongly,” added Çakarel.
“We started off for the Chinese market with Dong Ping’s Huanxi Media Group, which has world-renowned, huge-revenue projects like ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ and ‘Journey To The West,’” noted Çakarel, underlining that the Chinese market was under the hegemony of giant online firms and was a very difficult market.
“Huanxi invested $40 million in MUBI China and $10 million in the MUBI brand itself, thus creating a valuable opportunity for us in terms of growing, which is our biggest aim,” said Çakarel.
What makes MUBI stand out among its rivals is its daily film service. It offers a new film for its audience each day and each added film stays on the platform for 30 days.
MUBI, which was founded in London in 2007, is a curated online cinema and community that offers a subscription-based video on demand service.
MUBI has also caught the attention of award-winning film director Martin Scorsese, who worked with the company in opening up access to rare and precious films to a wider, global audience through his film preservation and restoration organization.