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CuriosityStream Joins the 4K Brigade

OTT service adds Ultra HD library, annual pricing plans to mark its first anniversary 4/11/2016 8:00 AM Eastern

RELATED: CuriosityStream Flips on Apple TV App

 

CuriosityStream, the over-the-top subscription video-on-demand service from Discovery Communications founder John Hendricks, is celebrating its first birthday by launching a small-but-growing library of 4K content, along with a new annual subscription plan.

 

CuriosityStream, which launched on March 18, 2015, currently offers more than 50 hours of content in 4K, and is now working on a new, exclusive project called Big Picture Earth that will be offered in the format, CuriosityStream chief operating officer Peter North said.

 

“We had a filmmaker fly all around the world and film some of the greatest monuments and cities in 4K, and we’ve made it into a 20-episode series,” North explained in a recent blog post providing several updates on the service.

 

Except for small instances where geo-blocking prevents it, the new 4K content is available to the 196 countries where CuriosityStream is currently offered.

 

“We always pursue global licensing,” North said in an interview, noting that the service soft-launched its 4K library about two weeks ago. “Anything we produce, we’ll be retaining global licensing for that.”

 

BIG PIPE NEEDED

Per CuriosityStream’s FAQ about 4K, it’s recommending downstream speeds of 25 Megabits per second or higher, so subscribers will need a beefy broadband connection to view those titles in their full glory.

 

Out of the chute, CuriosityStream will support 4K on the Amazon Fire TV, 4K-capable Android TV devices, PCs and laptops with 4K displays attached, and on the Roku 4 (initially on a private beta channel that is pending Roku’s approval). It’s joining a select group of OTT services that offer libraries in the pixel- packed format, including Amazon Video, Netflix, UltraFlix and FandangoNow (the service formerly known as M-GO that’s now part of NBCUniversal).

 

Although 25 Mbps isn’t a hard and fast recommendation, CuriosityStream 4K content is built from high-bit-rate mezzanine files in order to provide “the most visually striking” content currently available in the format, North said.

 

CuriosityStream’s 4K programming is offered via its new “Premium Plan,” which sells for $11.99 per month or $119.99 per year.

 

It has also added annual subscription options to its other plans—Standard (which supports HD streams) sells for $5.99 per month or $59.99 per year, while Basic (standard-definition streams) fetches $2.99 per month or $29.99 per year.

 

Driving subscriber growth remains a big priority this year, North said. CuriosityStream hasn’t disclosed a subscriber count, but said it has sustained weekly growth of 5%-20% over the past year.

 

The service now delivers a curated library of more than 1,300 titles in 32 categories.

 

CuriosityStream is also working on native apps for smart TVs that support its HD and 4K plans, North added. In addition to TV makers such as Sony and Samsung, it’s also looking to work with the Smart TV Alliance, a group founded by LG Electronics, TP Vision and Toshiba that helps partners build native apps that can work on connected TVs from multiple brands.

 

PARTNERSHIPS WORKING

North said CuriosityStream has so far been pleased with the results of its partnership with Amazon. The service is part of Amazon’s Streaming Partners Program, which offers OTT subscriptions to Amazon Prime subscribers.

 

“It helps us reach customers we would otherwise have more difficulty reaching,” North said.

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