INCAA, Argentina’s public-sector film-TV agency which partners the Cannes Film Festival and Market on Ventana Sur, is talking up the results of its freemium VOD platform, cine.ar, one of a clutch of pioneering attempt at digital distribution by a national film institute.
The site hosts Argentine films, documentaries, series and shorts in order to promote their work and to seek out new audiences that might otherwise not have access to such content, both domestically and abroad.
Originally called Orion, in its three short years of existence, the service has proved a real success for INCAA, said Ralph Haiek, INCAA president. who presented the service at last month’s Malaga Festival.
The service currently boasts one-million total subscribers with high usability; more than five-million films have been streamed. Added up, those numbers make Cine.ar the largest native VOD platform in Argentina.
“We did this by making the platform accessible, free of charge and with an important catalog,” Haiek explained to Variety, “It’s a smaller catalog, but available to much of the world.”
In Argentina a library which currently hosts more than 800 titles will be accessible via iOS and Android apps, web browsers and smart TV, while nearly half of those are already available in territories all around the world.
Each week new entries will be added in an effort to reach a diverse audience with content that appeals all tastes. Some films, as many as five or six titles per month, will even premiere domestically on the service the same day and date as in theaters, for a fee of about $1.50.
“We have increased 20%-25% of the public that sees premieres now agreeing to pay the 30 pesos ($1.48),” Haiek said. “It has the democratizing effect that anyone can have access to premieres of the films that we promote through INCAA.”
A ticket to a film in a cinema in Argentina often costs ten times what Cine.ar charges, further illustrating Haiek’s point.
According to INCAA, navigability was a key feature they needed to get right, and so far it seems to have struck a chord. To start streaming, users need only download the app on their device, or go to the service’s website, play.cine.ar, and register as a user. The simple, intuitive design of the website and app were acknowledged at Las Vegas’ NAB Show earlier this month, where Cine.ar Play received the Produ Award in the best technical contribution of IP video category.
The challenge, Haiek said, is for an institute to operate a digital system if it doesn’t have rights to national films. It may be no coincidence that it has been Argentina’s INCAA and Mexico’s Imcine, which takes equity in Mexican movies it supports, which have to date have launched national film digital distribution platforms on Latin America.