Turner to take on Netflix, Amazon with new streaming service

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By J. Scott Trubey

Atlanta-based Turner Broadcasting System said Tuesday it will enter the streaming entertainment world against rivals such as Netflix and Amazon with an on-demand service for movie buffs called FilmStruck.

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Turner Broadcasting’s media rights deal with the NBA includes 64 live regular season games, an increase of 12, expanded digital media rights and other opportunities, including creation of an NBA Awards Show.

In what Turner said is its first “direct-to-consumer’ streaming service, FilmStruck will be geared to classic film lovers and will be managed by Turner Classic Movies in partnership with Criterion Collection. It will specialize in classic movies, art house and independent film and documentaries. The service will also have an extensive collection of foreign films.

FilmStruck, which is expected to launch in the fall, will not replace TCM, but TCM will be the Turner property that manages the service.

The titles to appear on FilmStruck include “Seven Samurai,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Blood Simple” and “Mad Max,” the news release said.

Turner, which is owned by New York-based Time Warner, has been remolding its business model and this venture is the company’s first to move outside the traditional distribution channels of cable and satellite TV. Other Atlanta-based Turner brands include CNN, TNT, TBS and Cartoon Network.

The company has also cut and reshuffled jobs in Atlanta as it makes changes to its business. 

Fees from cable and satellite subscribers are a big revenue source for Turner, but cord-cutting and the move to Internet-based and mobile platforms has forced traditional broadcasters and other media companies to rethink their methods of distribution.

“At Turner, we are dedicated to engaging fans wherever they are, and we’re investing aggressively in content, new capabilities and new businesses to achieve that goal,” Turner Chairman and CEO John Martin, said in a news release. “FilmStruck is a terrific example of our strategy to meet consumer demand for great content across all screens. It’s tailor-made for the diehard movie enthusiast who craves a deep, intimate experience with independent, foreign, and art house films. And it takes advantage of TCM’s powerful curation capabilities, as well as its proven track record in building a long-term relationship with passionate film fans.”

Turner sibling company HBO has launched its Go platform to reach consumers on tablets and other mobile devices. Turner also recently renewed its contract with CBS to air NCAA Division I Men’s basketball tournament games as sports and live events have become among the most reliable sources of ad revenue.

FilmStruck will also be the home to a premium Criterion Channel within the streaming service to create a two-tier content system.

“Criterion is teaming up with TCM to launch an arthouse film lovers’ dream streaming service,” Criterion President Peter Becker said in the release. “Working with TCM’s programming team, we’ll present a broad, constantly changing cross-section of Criterion titles on FilmStruck, a platform designed from the start to present films with the kind of robust supplemental features that Criterion is known for. The addition of the premium Criterion Channel will offer subscribers the most comprehensive Criterion experience ever available anywhere, including a steady stream of exclusive original content and archival discoveries, plus continual access to more than 1,000 films from the Janus Films library, many unavailable on disc or anywhere else. We’re very excited to be joining forces with TCM to make FilmStruck the streaming service serious movie fans have been waiting for.”

J. Scott Trubey covers economic development and commercial real estate for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He’s previously covered banking, airlines, hospitality and tourism, crime and government at newspapers in Atlanta and Augusta, Ga.


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