Between late 2015 and the summer of 2017, movie studio Lionsgate launched four niche subscription streaming services, one each targeting film buffs, comic fanatics, Spanish language movie fans and fans of comedian Kevin Hart. Today, the subscription service Comic-Con HQ has closed, and Lionsgate is weighing whether to close the film buff service, Tribeca Shortlist.
Lionsgate’s 50% success rate shows how much subscription streaming is a hit-or-miss business. Nearly a decade after Netflix launched its streaming service, hundreds of others have followed, as everyone from traditional media companies to startups vie for a share of the market. Amazon offers close to 200 streaming services owned by other companies through its Channels feature on Prime Video, one measure of the number of services that now exist.
• More services consider ad-based model
• Exclusive, but not original, content may be key to success
• Tribeca Shortlist may be shut down
But some have already thrown in the towel. Aside from Comic-Con HQ, Comcast’s NBCU closed Seeso, its comedy streaming service, in 2017. Fullscreen Media, which is now owned by AT&T, shut down its $6-per-month streaming service earlier this year.
Most households are willing to spend on average $38 per month total on subscription-streaming services including Netflix, according to a study conducted by Magid, a New York–based research company.
But with Netflix costing $10 for its standard plan and HBO Now priced at $15 a month, there aren’t many dollars left over for lesser-known services.
With these big-name services spending billions of dollars on original programming, niche services have a hard time getting attention. One strategy that seems to work is licensing exclusive programming from other outlets, rather than spending a fortune on making original shows. And since the rights to most popular U.S. premium shows are already owned, some of the more successful services are looking abroad for content.
For example, Lionsgate’s fastest-growing service is Pantaya, an offering it launched last year with Hemisphere Media Group that streams Spanish movies not available in the U.S. It has close to 200,000 subscribers, people told The Information. Although the service streaming Kevin Hart comedy shows, Laugh Out Loud, isn’t growing as quickly as Pantaya, it is doing well, they said.
“People talk about original content like it’s magic, but it’s incredibly risky and super high cost,” said Arlen Marmel, general manager of VRV, a multichannel video platform that includes decade-old anime streaming Crunchyroll, which just announced it will start doing originals next year. “It’s a very difficult way to start a streaming service.”
See the full article on The Information.