Cinephilia pays? New world cinema app lets you earn while watching
Collegemates Nitin Narkhede and Deepak Jayaram have come up with myNK, a new Video-on-Demand platform seeking to popularise foreign cinema in India
The absence of a dedicated world cinema app has long bothered Indian cinephiles. With thoughts of reaching out to this untapped consumer base, former collegemates Nitin Narkhede and Deepak Jayaram have created myNK — a new Video-on-Demand (VOD) platform comprising over 200 titles from 34 countries. Sixty per cent of these titles, which includes films, documentaries, and TV series, are already on the myNK app, which was launched in the beta stage in April.
Unlike subscription-based platforms like Netflix or Amazon, myNK adopts a pay-per-view distribution format, inviting users to buy ‘tickets’ for individual titles for a 48-hour period. Additionally, viewers can also opt to buy ‘reels’, letting them own a title for a limitless period. More uniquely, a ‘reel’-owner also gets a percentage share of the tickets issued on the film. This incentivised amount is added to your in-app wallet, with the remaining proceeds going to the filmmakers and distributors.
“The proposition of myNK is pretty novel. No other platform is offering such a service. The idea is to involve the community in promoting the film,” says Nitin, who quit his tech job in 2017 to develop the app. The driving concept behind myNK, the entrepreneur shares, was to utilise ‘blockchain technology’ in entertainment distribution. Explained simply, a blockchain facilitates transmission of data in a decentralised fashion, via cryptography. This ensures lack of piracy as well as provides transparency between creators and consumers.
Nitin first approached his school friend, filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, with the idea. The critically-acclaimed director pointed him to the lack of legally-accessible world cinema platforms in India (applications like Fandor and the Criterion Channel are geo-blocked, while MUBI offers only 30 titles a month). To ensure proper curation, Nitin enlisted the help of his co-founder and senior adman Deepak Jayaram. “We started content development in August 2018. Our focus has been on foreign cinema that’s never screened in India, or given little exposure here,” says Deepak.
Since the beta launch, films like The Student (Russian), Departures (Japanese) and several Dutch titles have performed well on the app. Other mentions include Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank, which won the Cannes Jury Prize in 2009; Michiel ten Horn’s The Peter Pan Man (2015); and Anders Østergaard’s Oscar-nominated documentary Burma VJ (2008).
Though early analytics reveal a metro-centric audience, the developers have registered log-ins from smaller towns of India. Going ahead, Nitin and Deepak are planning to bring international film festival content directly on the app. “We have already signed our first contract with a big European festival. You will be able to see all the films that are being screened there. The Indian market, at the moment, happens to be the biggest focus for international festivals,” says Nitin.
Beyond the 200-plus films in the current library, Deepak is focused on acquiring more titles from lesser-known territories. “A majority of our content is from Europe, America, and Latin America. We are planning to expand to include other regions like Japan, depending on consumer demand,” he says.
As for exploring regional markets within India, Nitin adds, “Our focus will remain on world cinema, though there are plans to integrate local content. Conversely, the same model will be replicated in other countries looking to stream Indian films.”