Thursday, April 28, 2016

Why I'm not excited about "Filmstruck"

The announcement that Turner is starting a TCM-branded SVOD service called Filmstruck has many movie lovers salivating. I don't blame them; the initial announcement was worded in way to raise expectations. But if you look closely at what is actually being promised when the service launches this fall, there's less reason for optimism. Here are reasons why I will take a wait and see approach:

1) Hulu loses Criterion: Hulu-Plus is an affordable service that offers tons of content in addition to the Criterion Collection. Now this great movie content goes elsewhere to yet another premium channel. Wouldn't it be better for all of us if Netflix, Hulu, etc., just kept/got more of this kind of content instead of all it being parceled out among different expensive channels? More niche services like Mubi and Fandor are being targeted by Filmstruck, too.

2) Filmstruck won't even have all Criterion: No, Criterion will have its OWN premium channel you'll have to buy ON TOP OF Filmstruck. This "movie lover's dream" is gonna be pretty expensive. Some Criterion content will be on Filmstruck, but how much? This question leads us to...

3) "Curated": Everyone is using the word "curated" to describe this service. Beware when a streaming video outlet boasts of being curated. That's a fancy way of saying, "Don't expect to get all the stuff you get on Netflix or Hulu. We're not gonna give you access to more than a fraction of what we have."

4) This ain't TCM: The TCM brand name is very powerful, but the movies being touted, while  not incompatible with Turner Classic Movies, are not at all representative of the bread and butter of TCM. It sounds like this will have a distinctly modern focus, with indie and arthouse favorites that have already been seen many times.

5) Remember Warner Archive Instant? This same company started a niche product several years ago and touted it as a movie lover's dream. Now it recycles the same content when it bothers to update at all and stands as a massive letdown, nowhere near the TCM on Demand many thought it might be.

6) What's the price gonna be? I'm guessing it'll be 9.99 a month for way less content than you get on other leading SVOD servives. I'll be happy to be proven wrong.

There are some promising signs, too, like the announcement that companies like Kino and Flicker Alley are in on this.  It may well be a fantastic service. Overall, though, it doesn't look like great news, and I think movie lovers should really lower their expectations until launch.


tony breen said...

what happened to warner archive streaming.

Rick Brooks said...

It's still around, but its updates are sporadic at best, and the company doesn't seem to promote it anymore. I don't know why it has been all but abandoned.