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The Criterion Channel: A Movie Streaming Service For Arthouse Movie Buffs

May 21, 2019 Sarah Cavill

Despite evidence to the contrary, like the latest Avengers film grossing over $2 billion at the box office, there is an audience for smaller, artistic films. The latest streaming service from Criterion and WarnerMedia hopes to appeal to that niche group.

The Criterion Channel

The Criterion Channel Is The Latest Effort From Warner Bros. Digital Networks To Reach Niche Movie Watchers

In the fall of 2018 after a reorganization at WarnerMedia, beloved classic and art house movie streaming service Filmstruck ceased to exist. Filmstruck, operated by Warner Bros. Digital Networks, was home to the iconic Criterion Collection. In response to outcry from top-tier directors and cinephiles, WarnerMedia made a deal with Criterion to launch a standalone movie streaming service, the Criterion Channel, that features films from the Criterion Collection and other similar films curated for the service.

Criterion is a video distribution company founded in 1984 that became famous for their bonus features including director’s cuts, letterboxing and added commentary that many film obsessives now take for granted. The Criterion Channel accesses the nearly 1,000 foreign, classic or arthouse films the collection includes. Other films from additional sources are licensed by the channel through arrangements with film studios, amplifying Criterion’s brand profile as the go-to service for certain kinds of movie-watchers.

The online format allows the Criterion Channel to create collections sorted by actors, directors, time periods or bonus features. There are also film series that lend themselves to bingeing.

A press release from Criterion and WarnerMedia said, “The Criterion Channel will be picking up where FilmStruck left off, with thematic programming, regular filmmaker spotlights and actor retrospectives, featuring major classics and hard-to-find discoveries from Hollywood and around the world.”

Streaming Service Subscriptions Surpass Cable For The First Time

Streaming Service Subscriptions

As a home service, streaming is becoming increasingly popular. A report by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) released in March asserted that “digital home entertainment was the driver of growth,” in global entertainment consumer spending in 2018, and the report details the rise of streaming and digital entertainment that same year:

  • U.S. digital entertainment sales grew 24% and global sales 34% from 2017 to 2018.
  • Streaming video subscriptions surpassed cable television for the first time, with 131.2 million new subscriptions added, rising to 613.3 million worldwide, an increase of 27% YOY.
  • 70% of Americans enjoy digital streaming as an option for watching TV and movies.

Criterion Streaming Channel Targets Users Who Prefer Cable Alternatives

The Criterion Channel is only available to watch on the Criterion Channel website or app, and various streaming players like Roku, Amazon Fire and Apple TV. As a fully digital and web offering, it is targeted to those customers who aren’t turning to traditional cable for their entertainment. The Criterion Channel subscription is $10.99 per month or $99.99 per year. And while there aren’t opportunities for advertising on the Criterion Channel, it’s important for marketers to understand that these niche viewers are out there, and may forgo other streaming services for a more specific subscription option like the Criterion Channel.

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Associate Content Manager, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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