nScreenMedia OTT multiscreen media analysis

Can foreign subtitled TV SVOD service find a U.S. audience?

SVOD customers paying for multiple services

Walter Presents brings foreign subtitled TV shows to American audiences in March. Will likely subscribers be able to find the service, and will they be willing to sign-up for another SVOD service?

Walter PresentsFor those U.S. fans of foreign movies and TV shows, the service Walter Presents could be a great addition to their media resources. The UK service is expanding to the U.S. in March, and will bring a selection of 34 subtitled series from 12 countries when it launches. It will also premiere two new shows each month. Since all episodes of each series will be available, the service is perfect for subscribers to binge watch as much as they like. The service will cost $6.99 a month.

Walter Presents faces two big obstacles in the U.S. Consumers have proven resistant to subscribing to more than one SVOD service. And smaller services are struggling to be found by potential customers.

Multiple SVOD subscriptions more common

Signs are that consumers are gradually accepting the idea of subscribing to multiple SVOD services. According to data from TiVo/Digitalsmiths, in 2013 28% of SVOD users were paying more than $11 a month for their services of choice. 62% were paying $11 or less a month. Given the average price for SVOD services at the time was between $8-$10, that means almost two-thirds of SVOD users were only taking one service.

By mid-2016 the situation had shifted. 38% were spending more than $11 a month, and half were spending less. Given that the big three SVOD services (Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu) all cost less than $11 a month, it is clear more consumers are subscribing to multiple SVOD services.

This is good news for new entrants like Walter Presents, but to have a chance at being found by likely subscribers remains the key challenge.

Can Amazon help people find Walter Presents

One route many SVOD services are taking to aid in the discoverability of their service is via Amazon Channels. Amazon uses its knowledge of subscriber habits to market appropriate video services directly to customers. As well, any video searches within Amazon Prime Video encompasses all the partner channels. This approach has delivered “millions” of subscribers to Channels partners, according to Amazon.

However, Amazon could be less useful to Walter Presents. There are many services which target similar audiences, including British Pathe, IndiePix, and Fandor. This could dilute the appeal of foreign TV shows. As well, searching on foreign TV titles could be problematic for American audiences. How many will know the titles, and be able to spell them correctly, to search on them?

Targeting your niche

Some new SVOD services are solving the discoverability problem by launching services with built in marketing opportunities.

83-year-old Curzon Cinema in the UK provides its customers with arthouse movies in a relaxed atmosphere. It has movie theaters in major cities around the UK. However, many movie fans simply can’t get to them as often as they would like. The company launched Curzon Home Cinema to solve that problem. The SVOD service often provides movies on the same day as they are released in the theaters. And it aggressively markets the online service through the theaters and in its marketing materials.

Last year, Comic-Con launched a video service to help it expand the reach of its hugely successful convention beyond the physical location and event dates. Comic-con HQ provides a mix of live and recorded convention events, as well as related on-demand assets, for $5 a month.

Unfortunately, Walter Presents does not have a built marketing channel, like Curzon and Comic-Con. And this will make discoverability the biggest challenge the service will face when it launches in the U.S. next month

Why it matters

SVOD services continue to launch seeking to connect with niche audiences.

Signs are that consumers are increasingly open to subscribing to multiple online video services.

Ensuring the target niche audience will discover the service remains the biggest challenge for any new online video service.



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