Δευτέρα, 6 Απριλίου 2020

Cinobo (Cinema No Borders): the first Greek streaming platform. A review.


 Cinobo: the first Greek streaming platform.

A review.

2020 will be the year of the streaming wars which means more options for the users but also more failures and competition for the companies. The vast majority of millennials spent time on YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu, while they probably have a household Amazon Prime account. With Apple, Disney, and HBO entering the game, the user will have to make a choice about which subscriptions offer better value for money and which they actually need. This is where platforms must differentiate and find a niche. Mubi has already done that, with a subscription base of 9 million users, and Britbox, Curzon Home Cinema, and others coming up in the queue. Cinobo (Cinema No Borders) wants to fill that niche in Greece or Greek cinema in general. I recently found out about this platform and to be honest I was surprised. I decided to try the new platform so that I can write this review and creatively occupy my free time while at home isolation. 


Before I move on to the actual review I feel obliged to give some background about my point of view, which is something all reviewers must do. Since I don't watch TV series, I am not a Netflix subscriber, but I have Amazon Prime to watch movies. I have also paid for a Mubi subscription, but I am not a regular user of the platform. It's been a while since I last watched a movie at a cinema (except film festivals), since I prefer going to the theatre, and I enjoy watching European movies at home (my last purchase was The Favourite, while I have bought all movies by Farhadi and Akin). 

Registration and availability

For obvious reasons Cinobo is available in Greece and Cyprus, so it requires the user to "be in Greece when registering their account". In practice, that means just having a Greek IP. I managed to register using a VPN and using my UK Transferwise Debit Card. Easy process, it literally took me 3 minutes. 
Once you have registered you can watch from anywhere within the EU, although in their FAQ Cinobo states that you can watch only from Greece or Cyprus. Anyway, I logged out my VPN and stumbled through Cinobo's movies catalogue with my British IP without an issue. There is a free trial for 14 days, after that, there is only one plan at €7.99 / month.

Movies and curation

Cinobo is not a Netflix nor a Prime competitor, it's a Mubi or Curzon with a Greek spice. Since only Mubi is available in Greece but without so many Greek movies, Cinobo starts from a good point. Cinobo's categories naming reveals the audience the new platform is appealing to: American Indie, LGBTQ+, Greek Cinema, Festival Gems, A Walk On The Wild Side, The Balkans. The core audience of Cinobo is people who regularly attend the Greek International Film Festivals, AIFF or TIFF.
The available movies are not in the thousands but the quality of the movies is top-notch. Moonlight, The Lobster, A Separation, Manchester by the Sea, Leviathan among other festival winners and hidden gems. Like I wrote earlier it's not recommended for binge-watching but for a quality night in.

Greek movies

There are currently around 35 Greek movies available, but probably the best Greek movies of the last two decades. I was glad to find movies that I wanted to watch for a long time, such as "Wednesday 04:45", "Chevalier", and "The Eternal Return of Antonis Paraskevas". I watched again some of my favourites like "Little England" and "Miss Violence".
If I have to add something I would add some movies that shaped the Weird Greek Wave, like "From The Edge of the City" and "Matchbox", and a selection of short movies. I can understand that Angelopoulos could be a costly choice, as his films aren't widely available to other platforms either. After using the platform for just two weeks I saw new movies added regularly, I hope they keep up.

Viewing options - Available Platforms and Devices

I watched all movies from my Firefox browser on Ubuntu Linux, so I guess it's easily accessible from all operating systems on desktop and laptop. For mobile devices, Cinobo has its own Android and iOS apps. Having said that you cannot watch Cinobo on mobile browsers as the site will restrict you and suggest to download the app. If you have an Android TV or Chromecast that's easy but there is no way to watch Cinobo on an Amazon FireStick. If you use the apps there is an off-line option to download the movies. I haven't tried it but that's always a good option to have.
Last but not least, there are no 4K movies, the highest streaming quality is 1080p. I had to mention that because the platform aims for quality, so it must be added in the future.

Too long; didn't read. Cinobo offers great value for money.

Cinobo enters the streaming wars from a good start but on a difficult market. If you enjoy film festivals, European films, and a good movie night at home Cinobo is value for money. I continued my plan after the trial period and I can see replacing Mubi and Curzon during holidays for Cinobo. If they add 4k movies and keep updating their Greek movies, I will probably buy an annual subscription (which is currently not an option).

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