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TCM Targets the ‘Superfan’

Movie net looks to expand pie with art-house OTT service, digital perks 5/09/2016 8:00 AM Eastern

Offering a possible blueprint of sorts for other programmers looking to expand their reach and use |digital platforms to drive new revenue streams, Turner Classic Movies has recently unleashed two major projects to help it connect with movie “superfans.”

 

On one end is FilmStruck, a subscription-based over-the-top service for film buffs set to launch this fall, and on the other is TCM Backlot, a fan club that offers a range of perks in exchange for an annual charter membership of $87.

 

FilmStruck, Turner Broadcasting System’s first U.S. direct-to-consumer OTT service, is being developed and managed by TCM in tandem with the Criterion Collection. The coming ad-free offering will feature a refreshed library of art-house, indie, foreign and cult films.

 

In addition to films from the Criterion Collection that are FilmStruck’s anchor offering, the service will deliver movies from Janus Films, Flicker Alley, Icarus, Kino, Milestone and Zeitgeist; as well as bigger studios, including Turner’s Time Warner Inc. corporate sibling, Warner Bros.

 

Examples of films that will be in FilmStruck’s library include Seven Samurai, A Hard Day’s Night, A Room With a View, Blood Simple, My Life As a Dog, Mad Max, Breaker Morant and The Player.

 

TCM joins a growing mix of programmers using OTT to reach the consumer directly. On the premium end of the TV spectrum, HBO, Showtime and Starz offer standalone OTT services. AMC Networks has targeted the horror genre with Shudder, a service that’s still technically in beta and costs $4.99 a month or $49.99 per year, and also offers documentaries via the SundanceNow Doc Club ($6.99 per month, $59.99 per year). NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises launched the Seeso comedy OTT service in January.

 

TCM is a broad-based movie service, while FilmStruck aims at a certain demographic of fans pining for a curated collection of independent, foreign and cult movies, along with additional interviews and other bonus materials that “tell the story around the film,” Coleman Breland, president of TCM and Turner Content Distribution, said.

 

“We think there’s an appetite,” he said, noting that the core audience of FilmStruck will be 25-to-44-year-olds who over-index on pay TV and SVOD services. That group also spends an average of about $80 per month on movies, including going to theaters, he said.

 

“Our goal is to be the home for the indie, cult and foreign film fanatic … This is a very focused target audience, and they’re incredibly passionate,” Breland said, stressing that FilmStruck and its mix of classic and current fare will reach an underserved audience and won’t compete directly with TCM.

 

TCM has not set a price for FilmStruck, but intends to price it competitively to other streaming movie services on the market. It is looking at both monthly and annual pricing options, Breland said.

 

He also said he expects FilmStruck to debut with a library of about 1,500 titles, and intends to intially support several platforms, including the Web, iOS and Android mobile devices, tvOS (Apple TV) and Amazon Fire TV, followed up with rollouts on PlayStation and Xbox consoles, Roku players and Chromecast.

 

While FilmStruck will look to stand apart from TCM, a new fan club will center all of its efforts around the cable channel. Launched last month, TCM Backlot offers members exclusive content as well as the ability to become a “guest programmer,” win on-set tours and other perks and benefits.

 

Fullcube, a startup that has developed technology to help partners integrate and automate subscription-based OTT and digital offerings, is hosting TCM’s new fan club initiative.

 

TCM Backlot offers never-before-seen talent interviews, archival videos from the network vault, an exclusive TCM podcast and ways for members to attend meet-and-greets with the channel’s hosts.

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