What is Mubi?
There are dozens of film streaming platforms online. In this ever-so-crowded ecosystem of streaming platforms like Apple TV, Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime, Mubi seems to stand out with its unique film streaming services.
We can think of Mubi as an independent movie theater, but in a digital form. One of the things that make Mubi different from other streaming platforms is its curative approach. So, the platform picks different themes, actors, auteurs and directors and creates a film curation around these themes. Mubi offers a rich monthly curation offering cult features and shorts as well as newly released films, which opens up a liberating and accessible space for independent film lovers, where they can also access a variety of content on films and artists.
So, compared to other film streaming platforms offering access to a pool of films and series based on monthly subscription, Mubi is a unique streaming service. It works like an online independent movie theater, a film museum that offers a different selection of films every month, and a film magazine with detailed content on films and artists. All in all, it is a film platform that allows for “discovery”.
Mubi offers a free 7-day trial, so if you have time to go on a long film streaming marathon, you can experience the world of Mubi for free during the 7-day trial.
The monthly membership fee is $10.99
If you are student, you pay $6.99
You can also download the Mubi mobile app to watch films offline like in Netflix and Spotify.
Minimalist Design for the Best Streaming Experience
Mubi is a film streaming platform based on monthly subscription, organizing the occasional film premier and Q&A. But what makes Mubi an amazing film streaming platform is its special film selections like the “Film of the Day”. The platform gives the viewer the chance to discover new films, artists and directors with its uniquely curated selections like “1950’s Masterpieces”, “Festival Focus: Cannes Film Festival”, and “Growing Pains: Coming-of-Age Films”.
You can also create watchlists and access other users to become part of a film community and discover new films. The community function makes it easier to get other viewers’ opinions on films by reading their reviews and comments.
A Close Look at Mubi’s Business Model
There is no doubt that Mubi is a safe haven for independent film lovers. And, this haven stands on a very smart and successful business model. Founded by Turkish entrepreneur Efe Çakarel, Mubi has become a beacon of light for the global independent film scene thanks to its smart business model and alternative take on the film streaming ecosystem.
Mubi’s business model is based on offering a limited yet carefully curated film selection rather than an infinite pool of streaming content, which is the usual approach of most streaming platforms like Netflix. According to Mubi’s CEO Efe Çakarel, Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Google and Disney will continue to be the big players in the online entertainment and content streaming ecosystem. However, it is impossible for these platforms to satisfy all viewer segments at the same time, says Çakarel. He suggests that viewers need curated and focused content, which is the core of Mubi’s business model.
mubi.com’s film-like story: “We have found the name, so all we need is to get mubi.com. We have a look. Turns out Mr. Musarraf from Karachi, Pakistan gave his initials to his shop and bought the rights to mubi.com in 1994. He is the local repairman for TVs, computers, etc. I call him and say, “I am your Muslim brother here, I need your mubi.com”. He doesn’t speak much English, we can’t communicate. “I can’t sell my shop,” he says. “My family, my income, my neighbors.” I just couldn’t make him understand me. I ended up buying his whole company for 14 thousand dollars. And, I instantly gave back the shop. He was shocked to get 14 thousand dollars and still keep his shop. If one day Mubi goes public, I might make him hit the gong for New York Stock Exchange.”
(Resource: Gazete Oksijen (Elçin Yahşi - Efe Çakarel Interview) / Edition :11 (March 26-April 1, 2021)
Acquiring the rights for the films is the biggest expense item for streaming platforms. And, this is the most crucial part of Mubi’s business model and overall streaming policy. Why? Because Mubi buys the rights for a short period of time while other platforms like Netflix buy the streaming license of a film for at least a year for the sake of telling the viewer they can come and watch the film whenever they want, which increases the cost. Mubi, on the other hand, manages to cut costs by limiting the streaming duration, which also helps the platform to provide a more dynamic selection and streaming experience. As a global streaming platform, Mubi needs to conduct separate licensing processes for each market. So, there are some difference between the film selection offered in the US and the UK, for instance.
Starting with an investment of $750,000 USD in 2007, Mubi had to make ends meet for a long time. But, in recent years, it quickly increased its viewer count and got new investments thanks to the evolving streaming preferences around the world with increased mobile interaction and the rise of streaming platforms like Netflix. For instance, the platform had landed an initial investment of USD 50 million with the Chinese media group Huanxi, following the newly-found business contacts within the part of a go-to market plan for the Chinese market after getting an investment of USD 15 million in 2015. However, this deal didn’t materialize because of the restrictions on foreign investment activities by the Chinese government. It was then announced that the same company bought 1.6% of Mubi’s shares with an investment of USD 2 million.
What Makes Mubi Different from Other Platforms Like Netflix?
There is no doubt that Mubi offers a different streaming experience compared to platforms like Netflix. Although the monthly subscription model is pretty much the same, the service is different. Offering film selections with a focus on independent films and classics, Mubi is a favorite among independent film enthusiasts with its dynamic and diverse film curation. Mubi feels like the independent movie theater downtown, but in digital form. So, there is no doubt that the focus on curation and the film community makes Mubi a unique streaming platform in comparison to platforms like Netflix.