Alexander Mamut peeped in Okko

The owner of the "Cinema Park" and "Formula Cinema" without money purchased an online cinema.
One of the largest Russian online cinemas Okko entered the Rambler Group of Alexander Mamut. The deal became cash-strapped: Ekaterina Lapshina, owner of Okra, Era Capital, will receive a minority stake in Rambler Group, which also includes Cinema Park and Formula Cinema. Online video and film distribution, as a rule, compete among themselves, market participants warn.

Rambler Group has teamed up with the online Okko cinema, a spokesperson for Rambler told Kommersant. This is a cash-strapped deal: owning Okko Era Capital gets a stake in the parent company Rambler Group. The size of the share is not disclosed. Era Capital owner Ekaterina Lapshina confirmed to Kommersant the fact of the merger. An online cinema is needed by Rambler for "creating a cross-media ecosystem that encompasses all screens: mobile, computer, cinema and Smart TV," the company explains. The merged group will become the largest distributor of content online and offline with a common loyalty program, which will give new opportunities to advertisers and partners, Rambler hopes.

Alexander Mamut has long studied the development opportunities in the online video market. Sources told Kommersant that the businessman looked at different video services, including the largest ivi. The representative of Rambler confirms that the company held negotiations "with virtually all participants of the online cinema market". Rambler has already had deals in this segment: as reported by Kommersant, in 2017 the holding acquired control in Dalton Media, which develops the Eagle Platform platform (through it, video works on the websites of Vedomosti, the Rain channel and Rambler projects) . In 2017, Mr. Mamut acquired the largest cinema chains Cinema Park and Formula Kino, which are now operationally combined with his other media assets - Rambler and the Azbuka-Atticus publishing house - into a holding with a projected revenue of 25 billion rubles.

Okko launched in 2011 the founders of the operator Yota Sergei Adoniev and Albert Avdolyan, in the beginning it was called Yota Play. The last few years the video service belonged to their foundation Telconet, and managed by the investment consultant Marsfield Capital. In late 2017, Era Capital CEO of Marsfield Capital Ekaterina Lapshina bought from Telconet a number of assets, including Okko. Uniting with Rambler, Mrs. Lapshina counts on integration in the field of home and cinema viewing. "This is the synergy of online and offline consumption, it seeks to use all services: classic, e-commerce, marketplace. We are very satisfied with the assessment and are interested in getting more interesting figures on the way out. If there are no stories about the way out, we will earn together, "she noted.

Unlike most online cinemas, Okko works without advertising, the user is offered to subscribe or pay a separate film. After the transaction, this model will continue. By the end of 2017, Okko doubled its revenues to 1.38 billion rubles. and ranks second among the online cinemas after ivi, whose revenue - 2.43 billion rubles. Okko estimates its market share at 18%. In 2017, the company went to breakeven and develops "practically without the use of debt instruments," they say in Rambler. In 2016 Okko owners held talks with VimpelCom about a partnership, which presumed a buyout of the company by an estimated $ 40 million, a source at Kommersant said. Ekaterina Lapshina does not comment on this assessment, but notes that since then Okko has grown and is now valued more.

In general, the online video market in Russia has been growing for several years, but most services have not yet reached a stable payback. Among the problems - piracy and high costs for licensed content. The oldest players, like ivi or Okko, started when the market was not yet ready, and lived for a long time at the expense of shareholders, says iTech Capital partner Alexei Soloviev. "Now the time has come when the market is still ready, but the question is, in what financial condition is the online cinema after several years of this glacial period," he notes. From the point of view of film distributors, there will hardly be any preferences for a united player in the field of offline and online, the director for the Central Partnership film distribution Vadim Vereshchagin is doubtful. In addition, film distribution and video on demand are competing markets, and giving preferences to one, inevitably harm another, he argues.