Two cable channels work to reinvent themselves for the digital age. TCM goes all-in on multiscreen. AMC allows people to buy-out of ads.
Chapter 1: Turner Classic Movies focuses on the fans (1:25)
Speaking at the TV of Tomorrow Show in San Francisco on Wednesday, Jennifer Dorian, GM of TCM and Filmstruck, talked about the multichannel distribution model embraced by the cable broadcaster. This model is driven by the core fanbase for classic movies. This fan-focus has positioned TCM well for success, whatever the market does.
TCM has an authenticated app, Watch TCM, which pay TV customers can use to immerse themselves in a variety of Turner-curated themes. For those without pay TV, or looking for a different experience, FilmStruck is available online for $6.99 a month, or $10.99 with the Criterion Film Collection included.
TCM is also working hard to encourage the classic film community. It is producing a film Festival in LA, providing special access to TCM with Backlot, and producing educational courses in association with Ball State University. The company even has a wine club.
Chapter 2: AMC tries an ad-free option (9:45)
Comcast Xfinity TV customers can subscribe to a new service called AMC Premiere. For $4.99 a month, subscribers can get ad-free access to the network’s shows along with the current session episodes. There is a variety of movies and first-look content also available. Missing from the library are full seasons of top shows including Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, and Mad Men.
Will views this as a test of the power of ad-free viewing. Other services have offered subscribers the opportunity to pay to avoid ads. For example, Hulu and CBS All Access subscribers can pay $4 more per month and watch on-demand shows ad-free. Hulu has suggested not many people have signed up to watch ad-free. This suggests watching ad-free on its own doesn’t provide sufficient value to get consumers to pay.
I’ve noted since I went ad-free on Hulu and YouTube that my family’s viewing of the two services has increased a lot. However, that’s necessarily a good indication that others would behave similarly.
The lack of top titles in the AMC service looks like it could be a big problem. All three titles mentioned are available from Netflix, which many Comcast customers already have and can access from the X1 set-top box.