CuriosityStream Transitions to Ad-Supported and Subscription Hybrid Model
Streaming service also announces sponsorship and distribution opportunities.
The streaming video-on-demand world can be challenging for niche subscription services, and not all survive. CuriosityStream, a streaming subscription service launched by Discovery founder and executive chairman John Hendricks, has amassed nearly 1 million subscribers and hopes to keep growing. The service, which features documentaries and series featuring science, technology, history, health and more, originally launched in 2015 with a subscription-only model, but last week the service announced its transition to a hybrid business model that has both an ad-supported tier and a subscription tier.
The new ad-supported tier is called CuriosityStream SHOWCASE, and it allows viewers to watch 18 blue-chip titles for free. The premium subscription service is still available, but at a reduced price, giving subscribers access to all 1,800 titles for $19.99 per year. To support both the free and premium services, CuriosityStream announced that they will have six category-exclusive presenting sponsors automotive, aerospace, energy, communications, insurance and financial services.
Each of these six sponsors will have a branded “theater” on the platform which will include curated titles along with sponsored content. The ads, however, will not be intrusive, says CuriosityStream. Instead, the titles will include 15-second pre-roll ads before each program, but there will be no commercial interruptions during shows. The goal is to “preserve a premium television viewing experience.”
According to CuriosityStream, adding sponsorship revenue allows the company to lower the price of its subscription, so it is accessible to more people. Sprint has been named the exclusive sponsor for the telecommunications category. A new CuriosityStream series called DIGITS will be one of the featured programs in the Sprint Theater. Additional sponsors will be named later this year.
In addition, CuriosityStream announced that it has signed agreements with more than 30 third-party distributors to reach more than 100 million households. The distributors include Prime Video Channels, Comcast, Sling TV, Cox, Samsung, Roku, Apple TV, YouTube TV and others.
Clint Stinchcomb, president and CEO of CuriosityStream, commented on the changes.
“As we have now achieved a reach of over 100 million homes through agreements with global distributors and our paying subscribers approach the 1 million mark, this is truly a milestone period in the development of CuriosityStream,” said Stinchcomb in a statement.
“Our streaming service, which offers premium programs across the entire category of factual entertainment, is riding the unstoppable wave of Internet-delivered SVOD television that is sweeping the planet. Driven by the undeniable, widespread and accelerated consumer demand for high-quality content that can be enjoyed at any time and without commercial interruptions. CuriosityStream is taking new steps today that are designed to take full advantage of this third revolution of television that offers control to consumers far beyond what was available in the previous broadcast and cable television eras,” Stinchcomb added.
Hendricks also shared his thoughts on the new developments.
“Today marks the launch of a new and vibrant economic model for on-demand television toward which viewers are migrating by the tens of millions in the United States and by the hundreds of millions globally. As viewers access premium on-demand services either directly (OTT) or through their existing cable, satellite or internet distributor, they are searching for the highest quality content choices that are not cluttered with commercial interruptions,” Hendricks said.
“I am pleased to report today that our nearly year-long design work with some of the nation’s leading advertising agencies and their ‘blue-chip’ clients has produced a breakthrough new way for sponsors to follow and reach these smart and affluent viewers who have gone ‘missing’ from linear television. The estimated 40 percent of television viewers who crave engaging content that informs as well as entertains now have a service to call their own and it is now more affordable than ever,” added Hendricks.
While these developments aren’t necessarily groundbreaking or new, done in combination, they provide an interesting new model for CuriosityStream. With nearly 1 million subscribers, the company already has a strong subscriber base, but adding sponsorship revenue and greatly expanding the service’s reach could help CuriosityStream grow well beyond that base. These are exciting changes, and if executed well, could provide a potential model for similar niche services to follow.