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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

FilmStruck: The Optimal Streaming Experience for the Classic Film Fan Arrives Next Week

For a while now fans of TV’s Turner Classic Movies (TCM) have been wondering if the old movie channel was ever going to be accessible via streaming (or should I say the multi-media savvy fans). Yes, you can obtain everything the channel has to offer online, but only if the media provider to which you subscribe already offers TCM in their lineup. And you still need cable; otherwise you’re out of luck. So, what does one do if they’ve cut the cord and still have a jones for curated classic cinema? And perhaps more to the point, how does Turner expect to retain, let alone increase its youth audience if it doesn’t provide media in the manner in which millennials are most likely to consume it? The answer is a collaboration with Criterion to bring the most inclusive cinema resource ever available to consumers.

Entertainment and how we access it is changing faster than executives care to think. Turner’s launch of FilmStruck is part of the Time Warner-owned cable programmer’s bid to grow revenue in new digital avenues, as the pay-TV business is expected to continue shrinking in the years ahead. This is Turner’s opportunity to test the direct-to-consumer SVOD segment it’s been teasingly suggesting to the public it was going to do for years. Turner execs have said time and again that they didn’t want to rush anything and just wanted to be sure to do it right. Video-on-Demand is where it’s at, and frankly those not already there are a bit late to the game. The challenge for FilmStruck will be to capture a share of consumers’ wallets against other, more established SVOD offerings in the market such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, as well as the directly competitive services tailored to film buffs, including Fandor and Tribeca Shortlist.

However, a media platform constructed wisely, and carefully can pull it off. And that’s what Turner has positioned itself for here. FilmStruck is a subscription video-on-demand service, stocked with hundreds of art-house, indie, foreign and cult films along with a menagerie of related content. We won’t know for sure until next week but it looks like an excellent effort has been made to address all possible considerations in formulating a resource film fans, classic and otherwise, will be scampering to join. With a rotating selection of films from such indie studios as Janus Films, Flicker Alley, Icarus Films, Kino, Milestone, Zeitgeist, Film Movement, Global Lens, First Run Features, Oscilloscope Laboratories and Shout Factory, along with movies from major studios including Warner Bros. and MGM the foundation seems to be very solid. Now it’s just a matter of presentation.

The FilmStruck service will feature over 70 curated and constantly refreshed programming themes, along with exclusive bonus content like hosted introductions, originally produced pieces, interviews and rare footage. In addition, beginning November 11, FilmStruck will become the exclusive streaming home to The Criterion Channel (goodbye, Hulu), offering what the companies say is the largest streaming collection of Criterion films available, including classic and contemporary films from around the world, interviews and conversations with filmmakers and never-before-seen programming. The service will feature the largest streaming library of art-house, independent and foreign films, constantly refreshing the library with new films added weekly so there will always be something new to watch. With so much promised I truly hope FilmStruck delivers what it promises. I’ll never have to pay for cable again, I’ll actually see all the films I’d love to see in a theater but most of the time just can’t be bothered to leave the house.

And what does all this film fabulousness cost? Well, initially, FilmStruck will only be available in the U.S, although I have no doubt once the licensing issues are figured out the platform will spread globally. At this time there are three pricing tiers. The entry-level service at $6.99 per month and gives you access to just the films available through TCM. The second tier is FilmStruck + The Criterion Channel at $10.99 per monthly, which offers everything in the base subscription plan plus unlimited access to Criterion’s entire streaming library of films and special features, along with exclusive original programming. The third tier is the same as the second but billed annually at $99, which gives you a break off of $10.99 times twelve ($131.88). FilmStruck will be available on the web, Android and iOS devices, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV, with additional platforms and devices coming in the future. As with Netflix, Hulu and other services, FilmStruck offers only video streaming (with no downloads for offline viewing). And of course, all films will be in HD unless they are not available in that format.

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