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Times Bridge invests in MUBI streaming service

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MUMBAI: The investment arm of the Times of India group, Times Bridge, and Danish film-maker Nicolas Winding Refn have invested in specialty streaming service MUBI. The terms of the deal remain undisclosed but are understood to be similar to the revised arrangements under which China’s Huanxi Media became a backer in November 2016 according to a Variety.com report. In that deal, Huanxi paid $2 million for a 1.6 per cent ownership stake, valuing MUBI at $125 million.

Unlike the global leaders in streaming with all-you-can-eat content menus, MUBI operates by operating a limited and rotating selection of just 30 movies. It contends that curation (selection by humans, not algorithm) creates a community of active users. After 10 years in operation, it currently claims 8 million registered users.

Times Bridge, which counts stakes in Uber, Vice and AirBnB, regards the investment as strategic. It will provide MUBI with local knowledge, talent outreach and commercial and festival partnerships. India, which is currently waking up to streaming video, already represent MUBI’s third largest market. Subscriptions are sold at Rs 500 per month in India and at $8.99 in the U.S.

“MUBI is an original idea with a decade’s worth of proven appeal amongst fans of independent cinema worldwide. Film is inextricably linked to India’s heritage and, in a country with rapidly-changing tastes, we are confident that the MUBI platform will delight a meaningful audience seeking high-quality, curated, global cinema,” said Rishi Jaitly, CEO of Times Bridge.

Winding is expected to provide advocacy and add brand value to the company which already counts Working Title’s Eric Fellner as an angel investor. Winding Refn previously produced new brand identity for MUBI.

“Times Bridge have shown a highly sophisticated understanding of our business and our goals in the region. India is a unique opportunity for us to engage with a passionate community with deep cultural ties to film,” said MUBI’s founder and CEO Efe Cakarel, in a statement.

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