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European On-Demand Platform Chili Expands Operations (EXCLUSIVE)

European on-demand platform Chili, which is backed by Warner Bros., Paramount, Fox and Sony, is ramping up operations, following up its expansion in the U.K. last June with an official launch in Germany and Austria over the past weekend.

The Milan-based company is now active in Italy, Poland, Germany, Austria and the U.K., which it says puts 60% of Europe’s potential audience within reach. Overall, it now has 2.4 million registered customers who have signed up for access to the non-subscription, on-demand streaming platform, including more than 500,000 in Britain, CEO Giorgio Tacchia told Variety in an interview. His aim is to grow that to more than 4 million customers by the end of the year, and to 14 million across Europe by 2022. 

Tacchia, who launched the service in Italy in 2012, said Chili’s two big strengths are how early it puts movies on the site and how it serves as a “one-stop shop” for entertainment-related consumption. By operating in the transactional window space – the first window after theatrical release – “we get product before anyone else,” Tacchia said. And movie and TV fans get access in one place to merchandise, gadgets, posters, trailers, physical DVDs/Blu-rays and exclusive content via its digital magazine.

Even before a movie is available on Chili, the service can sell tickets to the film in theaters. Audiences can then see the movie again on Chili a few months later on a transactional streaming basis before it becomes available on regular pay-TV – which has a six-month wait in Italy after theatrical release – or subscription streamers such as Netflix.

“We get our content at least a year earlier than Netflix,” says Tacchia, who contends that the time lag is a key reason “why streamers like Netflix and Amazon produce their own content.”

Chili’s offering spans fresh studio film fare such as “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” European art movies such as “Never Look Away” and a smattering of TV series, including “Empire” and “Better Call Saul.” 

Tacchia said that the current ratio of movies to series is 70% to 30% but that this will narrow as the company buys more European rights for TV shows, especially those targeting the youth demographic. Chili also intends to up its offer of European indie product. 

Warner Bros., Paramount, Sony and Fox account for 17.2% of the ownership of Chili, which is controlled by Tracchia and other founders through a 27.5% share. Financial investors hold 35.8% of the company, and Italian coffee company Lavazza holds a 19.4% share.

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