Six months after the streaming service was launched by telecom giant MTS, company execs say they’re aiming to grow their subscriber base to 3.8 million by the end of the year as the Russian SVOD arms race heats up.
To do so, KION is looking to build its catalog of original films and series in a bid to attract more eyeballs. “We have a very competitive market in Russia,” said Igor Mishin, VP for media business development at MTS and CEO of MTS Media. “There are more than 20 platforms here, and 10 of them are really huge. And those 10 are producing a big amount of TV series.” To keep pace, added the veteran producer, KION hopes to launch between 30 and 40 originals each year.
By year’s end, the company expects to have 10,000 titles on its streaming service, although Mishin stressed that the size of KION’s library is hardly the key to its growth prospects. “It doesn’t matter the number of titles on the platform. The diversity and the quality of the content means much more than the amount,” he said. “The idea of us standing out is based on us producing something that nobody has.”
One attempt to do that is through KION’s kinostories format, which offers content that can be viewed as both a feature-length film or as episodic series broken into shorter, 10- to 15-minute segments. “We work on the scripts so that each episode is a separate drama act, so that when you’re watching it as a feature, you don’t see that it’s cut,” said Mishin.
Headlining the company’s Mipcom slate is the crime drama “Crystal City,” which was a hit after bowing on the streaming service earlier this year. It follows a detective who returns to his hometown to investigate a series of high-profile murders. Another featured title is “Wanna Be Happy,” a dramedy about a successful sexologist who believes she’s found the formula for love and happiness – until she discovers her husband is having an affair, and her life collapses like a house of cards.
The teen drama series “16+” is an anthology of 10 x 15’ musical short films inspired by popular TikTok songs that look at the most pressing issues affecting teens today, such as falling in love for the first time and accepting one’s sexuality. “Padre Sergius” is a horror comedy about a disgraced priest with an otherworldly gift for seeing signs of evil-doing who’s enlisted by the church to solve crimes.
The crime drama “Reaper Bay” follows a veteran female detective who teams up with a journalist with a murky past to investigate a grisly series of murders. Finally, there’s the documentary “Sakharov. Two Lives,” which tells the story of the creator of the hydrogen bomb, the academician and human rights activist Andrei Sakharov.
The diverse slate, said KION’s head of international sales and co-productions, Alina Martyanova, offers something for every taste. “There is a female-driven dramedy, there is a dark comedy, there is a teenage drama, there are a few crime dramas,” she said. “They’re all very different.”