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Paving the Way for Russian Online Video Market

Published: January 31, 2014 (Issue # 1795)



  • Hit U.S. TV show like the AMC series “Breaking Bad” can now be streamed online on Russian video sites.
    Photo: AMC

While online video streaming in the U.S. has shown that the Internet can be effectively monetized by film and television, the fear of piracy in Russia has limited the spread of such services here.

Only now, a few companies are taking the plunge and offering online streaming services, and The St. Petersburg Times spoke to three of them to get a sense of the online video market in Russia today.

The first online cinema in Russia

Ivi.ru is considered to be the first Russian online cinema — and is the most popular. Founded in 2010, it has reached 30 million unique users with 200 million views per month in only four years. The catalogue consists of more than 70,000 videos, and the Ivi app on Smart TV is one of the most popular for Samsung, Philips and LG televisions around the world.

Related: Anti-Piracy Law Is Good, Tech Makes It Better

Not long ago, ivi.ru was in the middle of scandal between Cinema Park and Karo Prokat. Ivi started showing the Russian film "Geograf Globus Propil" at the same time as theater chains, and Cinema Park and Karo Prokat demanded that distributor "Nash Kino" take the film version off the web.

While Ivi was not breaking the law, they decided not to show the movie on the website in order to avoid confrontation and legal battles with big companies.

The founders of Ivi wanted to create the first legal online cinema with a commercial business model, and hoped to become a giant in Russia's burgeoning online video market.

The main rivals for Ivi are pirates, which is one of the reasons why the company decided to work with an advertising video on demand, or AVOD, business model. People can watch 97 percent of the site's content for free, while another 3 percent is in a premium-class package that users must pay for, either by subscription or for a single movie, but there is no advertising. The price is 299 rubles ($8.64) for a month's subscription or from 99 to 249 rubles per film.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Nov. 26


AmCham’s Public Relations Committee will meet this afternoon in their office in the New St. Isaac’s Office Center on Ulitsa Yakubovicha at 4 p.m.


Zoosphere, an international exhibition focusing on the pet industry, opens today at the Lenexpo convention center on Vasilievsky Island. Not only will items such as toys, terrariums and accessories be available for purchase, but animal enthusiasts can also learn about the latest in veterinary medicine and behavioral training thanks to the conferences and presentations that are part of the event.



Thursday, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg’s showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the team’s website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literature’s most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poet’s birthday. The tragic tenor’s work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russia’s greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test one’s intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only man’s best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during today’s reenactment titled “Winter War: How it Was.” More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie “Black Cat, White Cat,” as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of “Takoy Festival,” a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonight’s festival finale is “Fathers and Sons,” a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenev’s classic about familial relations.



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