The PlayStation Network is about much more than just games, bringing blockbuster movies, comics and music videos to millions of PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable users across the globe. Now, the European PSN is set to get another non-gaming service that cements the console’s position as a top of the range multimedia hub, MUBI, a movie streaming service filled with hundreds of internationally acclaimed films and cult flicks, that celebrates all that the independent film industry has to offer. To learn more about the service, as well as its future, PlayStation LifeStyle chatted to Efe Cakarel, Founder and CEO of MUBI in an extensive interview.
Hi Efe could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your work at MUBI?
Here is my bio..
Efe founded MUBI, a film website, after he discovered that he couldn’t watch ‘In the Mood for Love’ in a café in Tokyo. Previously, Efe was with Goldman Sachs in London and New York, where he worked on IPOs, mergers and acquisitions, and private equity investments. He earned his B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT, and MBA from Stanford.
How long have you been planning to bring MUBI to the PS3?
We’ve always planned to bring MUBI to our audience’s TVs, because that’s where most of us watch films at home. For a true home theatre experience, PlayStation 3 was a natural fit for this ambition.
MUBI was previously known as ‘The Auteurs’, did your partnership with PlayStation affect your decision to change your name?
The name change has been in the works for some time now. Simply put, our platform is unique in that it is global, and as such has an international, multi-lingual audience. We needed a name that could be accessible to audience members no matter where they are from or what language they speak — as long as they speak the language of cinema!
The MUBI service on the PC seems to be focused on community interaction, with users encouraged to talk about films on your forum, how do you plan to ensure that PlayStation users are given the same access to discuss movies?
Once you download MUBI on your PlayStation, we will create you a MUBI account (if you don’t have one already) and link it to your PlayStation Network account. Once connected, you can use both the web application and the PS3 one; viewings, ratings, and adding films to a user’s list of favorites are reflected on both platforms, and friends can keep track of your movie activities on the PS3 through the web application. Using MUBI on the PS3 plants the seeds of conversation and interaction that can be followed up on the web app through forum discussion, news and criticism reading, reviewing, and more.
With a dedicated app for the PlayStation, has this given you more control over the user interface when compared with the PC?
We are obsessed (literally) about user experience. The way you navigate a library of films and interact with a mouse on a browser is an entirely different experience than with a remote on your TV. Developing an entirely new app together with Sony engineers allowed us to define and design just the right experience. You will love some UI elements we innovated like a cover flow that slides under a transparent context ribbon (see above). It takes two clicks from landing on the application to start watching a film.
The experience is different from PC also because since the website is a portal, its content is provided in numerous formats and locations around the website. The PlayStation app, centred around the library-browsing and film-viewing experience, has allowed us to slim MUBI down and beautifully present the essence of the site, its offerings, it’s personality and style.
What kind of different payment methods can MUBI goers expect to use? And what is the pricing?
The application is integrated with the PlayStation Wallet. Pricing is not confirmed yet. We’ll be very competitive with our pricing.
In an interview with PlayStation LifeStyle, the CEO of VidZone, Adrian Workman, revealed to us that “the average VidZone user is male and 29 years old” – is this the kind of user demographic you expect will use MUBI?
It’s good movies, so we appeal to all demographics. Bur our sweet spot is 25-34 Male.
Will the service support remote play?
Not when we first launch.
Looking to the future, will you support 3D movies?
We are still evaluating the usefulness of this feature. After all, the kinds of films we focus on, independent, foreign, and classic cinema, generally abhor such commercial gimmicks. Then again, when we acquire Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 3D film, Dial M for Murder, the issue may be surprisingly relevant!
Will people be able to tie their PC MUBI accounts to their PSN MUBI accounts?
Absolutely! Not only that, if you are a subscriber on PC MUBI, you’ll be able to watch films for free on PSN MUBI and vice versa. It’s a true cross-platform play. Access your content anytime, on any device.
Are you planning to launch in the US? And if so, when?
We would love to launch this service in the US. Currently we are focusing on the 18 initial launch countries we are developing the application for, and after that evaluation period, we’ll see what happens.
And finally, on a lighter note, what is your favourite film?
Fellini’s 8 1/2
Stay tuned to PSLS for more PlayStation news, reviews and interviews.