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ITsArt, a new streaming platform dubbed the ‘Netflix of Italian Culture,’ is set to roll out across Europe in October and in the U.S. next year. 

Commissioned by Italy’s culture ministry, the ad-supported and transactional-VoD service providing access to Italian culture was conceived during the pandemic when Italy’s cultural institutions suffered from a drop in physical visitors and tried to react with various disparate forms of digital distribution. The service offers content ranging from virtual monuments and museum tours to live opera, pop music, dance, theater as well as movies.

Unlike Netflix, it’s free to register to ITsArt. The website and app are accessible via smart TV, web, smartphone or tablet. Content is free or pay-per-view. 

“The idea is to provide a common platform that can reach a growing audience of consumers of Italian art and culture around the world,” says ITsART CEO Giano Biagini who set up the launch.

Biagini is also co-founder and COO of Chili TV, the European on-demand film platform backed by Warner Bros., Paramount, Fox and Sony. Chili holds a 49% stake in ITsArt, while the majority 51% share belongs to the Italian government’s investment bank CDP (Cassa Depositi e Prestiti).

Content on ITsART ranges from live streaming of concerts such as an upcoming Ennio Morricone tribute concert from Pompei, priced at 6.90 ($ 8), and classical music events held at the Maggio Musicale Florentino festival in Florence, to virtual tours of Rome’s Colosseum and Milan’s Leonardo da Vinci Museum, among others. The film selection comprises history and art docs, classics among which Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Last Emperor,” and more recent standout titles such as the D’Innocenzo brothers’ debut “Boys Cry.” The platform is divided into three sections labelled Stage, Places, and Story. 

“It’s a unique model because we combine digital distribution technology with the wealth of Italian cultural content to provide the best of the country’s artistic and cultural patrimony,” said Biagini.

He has been busy contractualizing “all these incredible brands that now comprise roughly 100 Italian cultural entities.” Besides Pompei they include the Uffizi gallery in Florence, La Scala opera house in Milan, and artists such as conductor Riccardo Muti and pop star Andrea Bocelli, says Biagini.  ITsArt now offers more than 1,000 events and shows, some licensed exclusively, all on a revenue-sharing basis.

Biagini declined to provide viewer data for the platform that was launched in Italy and the U.K. on May 31 besides saying the initial response has been encouraging. He said the plan is to roll out ITsART across Europe in October and in the U.S. in 2022.