Another streaming video subscription service has been struck down. Last week, AT&T-owned WarnerMedia announced that it will shut down FilmStruck in the U.S. and abroad on November 29, 2018. The service has already stopped accepting new subscriptions for the service. Turner Classic Movies launched the over-the-top TV subscription service in late 2016, featuring a rotating selection of more than 1,800 independent, art-house and international films like “A Hard Day’s Night,” “A Room with a View” and the original “Mad Max.” Earlier this year, Warner Bros. added classic films to the list.
Visitors to the FilmStruck website will see the following message:
“We’re incredibly proud of the creativity and innovations produced by the talented and dedicated teams who worked on FilmStruck over the past two years. While FilmStruck has a very loyal fanbase, it remains largely a niche service. We plan to take key learnings from FilmStruck to help shape future business decisions in the direct-to-consumer space and redirect this investment back into our collective portfolios,” said Turner in a brief statement.
The shutdown will apply to all levels of the FilmStruck service including the FilmStruck Only Monthly package, the FilmStruck+Criterion Monthly package, the FilmStruck+Criterion Annual Package, and the FilmStruck+Criterion Student package. Standalone FilmStruck subscriptions were priced at $6.99 a month. Subscriptions to FilmStruck and Criterion were $10.99 a month. Monthly subscribers will not be billed again for their service. Annual and student subscribers will receive a prorated refund. Subscribers with questions can contact support at [email protected] through January 24, 2019.
The announcement came just two weeks after WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey announced plans for a direct-to-consumer streaming service.
“Today we announced plans to launch a new direct-to-consumer streaming service in the fourth quarter of 2019. This is another benefit of the AT&T/Time Warner merger, and we are committed to launching a compelling and competitive product that will serve as a complement to our existing businesses and help us to expand our reach by offering a new choice for entertainment with the WarnerMedia collection of films, television series, libraries, documentaries and animation loved by consumers around the world. We expect to create such a compelling product that it will help distributors increase consumer penetration of their current packages and help us successfully reach more customers,” said Stankey in an October 10 news release.
In related news, Warner Bros. Digital Networks shut down nine-year-old DramaFever, a streaming video-on-demand subscription service known for Korean, Chinese and Japanese dramas, on October 16. Like FilmStruck subscribers, customers will receive additional details, including refund information, via email.
“While this decision is difficult, there are a variety of business reasons that have led to this conclusion,” said DramaFever on its website. “We appreciate each and every one of our fans and their passion for the content DramaFever was able to bring into your lives.”
While disappointing to movie buffs and FilmStruck and Criterion subscribers, this move by WarnerMedia is not a surprise. Under the AT&T umbrella, as part of the AT&T-Time Warner merger, AT&T has to consolidate its efforts and put its time and energy into profitable projects. When Stankey made his announcement earlier this month, the writing was on the wall. The company likely wants a more broad -based streaming service like Netflix or Hulu rather than a niche-based offering which has not yet proven itself. FilmStruck is one of a number of casualties in the niche OTT marketplace. It will not be the last.