By Alessandro Bettero*
Its official name is VatiVision, but it’s starting to be known as the “Vatican’s answer to Netflix.” The project is big and ambitious. Roman Catholics now have their very own worldwide streaming service, which includes on-demand, pay-per-view, and multi-device services with cultural, artistic and religious content. It offers movies, TV series, and documentaries, all inspired by the Christian faith. All have religious or artistic themes. Topics are intended for an international audience and are available in Italian and English at the moment, but will soon be available in other languages such as Spanish and Portuguese. The service began on June 8, 2020.
VatiVision was born from a joint venture between production company Officina della Comunicazione (which is based in the city of Bergamo in the Lombardy region) and Vetrya, the Orvieto-based group (in the Umbria region) that specializes in digital platforms and cloud computing. Financial support was provided by the Italian UBI Bank. The Vatican has no a stake in the venture.
Officina della Comunicazione has made several joint productions with the Vatican in recent years, all of which aired on Italian and international TV networks. After the launch in Italy, VatiVision will extend its service to the U.S., Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, the Philippines, Spain, and Poland.
VatiVision already has an extensive catalog of quality religious documentaries on Lourdes and great Popes, as well as biographical films and documentaries about major figures of the church, such as Padre Pio. Particular attention has also been paid to programs for children and teenagers.
VatiVision is based on the TVoD model. All content can be rented or purchased through apps available on services like Apple, Google, Samsung, Android TV, and Timvision. Most rates vary from €3.99 or U.S. $4.50 (for rental) to €7.99 or $5.10 (for purchase).
The president of VatiVision is Luca Tomassini (pictured above), while Nicola Salvi and Elisabetta Sola serve as co-CEOs in charge of programming and production.
“I am very proud to be able to lead the company that will manage the VatiVision service,” said Tomassini. “With VatiVision, we turn to a target audience that has been neglected up until now, and we are aiming to achieve important results, both for the quality and originality of the content and for the worldwide distribution [of that content], with a potential audience of 1.3 billion people of Catholic faith.”
No indication was provided about VatiVision’s content acquisition program.
* Alessandro Bettero is a director, screenwriter, and producer of fiction and non-fiction programs. He also covers Arts and Culture, Cinema, and New Media for several publications. Photo of Tomassini is by Vetrya.