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Inside Criterion’s Plan to Disrupt Streaming Video

Inside Criterion's Plan to Disrupt Streaming Video

The Criterion Collection and Turner Classic Movies (TCM) dropped a bombshell for serious movie lovers on Tuesday: they’ll be launching a new streaming service in the fall called Filmstruck. In addition to playing Criterion titles, Filmstruck will also include movies from Janus Films, Flicker Alley, Icarus, Kino, Milestone, and Zeitgeist, and select Hollywood studios including Warner Bros. Indiewire spoke with Criterion president Peter Becker Tuesday to learn more about the service, which hasn’t yet set subscription prices. 

READ MORE: The 19 Most Stunning Movie Covers By the Criterion Collection

Why is Criterion launching this service now?

If you ask me, it’s long overdue. I think there’s a real gap in the marketplace for a genuinely robust, well-curated, supplementally rich streaming service for the kind of audience that has come to appreciate what both TCM and Criterion do. It’s sorely needed.

How will Criterion’s films fit into the broader Filmstruck offering?

On the Criterion channel, which will be a premium tier available through Filmstruck, you’ll not only have access to the large selection of Criterion films with their supplemental features, but you’ll actually have the run of our library. There will be 500 films on Filmstruck at any given time, [plus] well over 1,000 on the Criterion channel once we’re fully up and running. It gives us a chance for the first time to be able to program across filmographies, genres, decades, and national cinemas to be able to tell the stories that we haven’t been able to tell on a film-by-film basis as we release one DVD or another.

But do you think the DVD market is dying?

Not at all, [and] especially not the Blu-ray marketplace. The Blu-ray edition is still certainly going to be our flagship product. There’s not a better way for us to deliver the highest possible quality video and a beautiful curated and packaged edition that people want to keep on their shelves. I think of this very much as an expansion rather than a transition.

How will Filmstruck differentiate itself from other streaming services?

It’s been conceived from the beginning to be focused on movies and movies only, and to create the kind of rich, supplemental experience that people come to expect from high-quality home video products, but that isn’t really available anywhere in the streaming space. 

What about the problem of consumers being overwhelmed by having too many choices?

One of the biggest problems that we have now is that we have tons of things to watch, but we don’t necessarily always know why we’d watch anything right now. Curation and programming play a big role in that. That’s a situation where our teaming up with TCM just makes so much sense. The team over there is so experienced and so good at threading their way through film history and combining their strengths with our library. Filmstruck is going to be clearly thematically programmed. It’s going to be clear not only what’s there to watch, but why it’s there. 

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