FilmStruck’s Demise Threatens Future Of Niche Content In Streaming

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The film buff community is in mourning. Popular niche streaming service FilmStruck announced a total shut down of services at the end of November. Filmstruck’s catalog included both the library of Turner Classic Movies and the Criterion Collection. There were lots of films from the first half of the 20th Century in it. The service also chose to spotlight more obscure titles from a diverse range of creators.

This comes not long after new parent company AT&T’s successful merger with Time Warner, and it’s not the only WarnerMedia service affected. DramaFever, a site dedicated to Korean dramas, shuttered earlier this month. Super Deluxe, the comedy destination that launched the career of Tim Heidecker, closed for the second time in its history just last week. All three sites have one thing in common, and that’s their extremely niche userbases.

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This push towards merger and bigger outlets happened once before, and that’s just as cable was taking hold of American households. Content providers quickly discovered that certain genres could only really sustain one outlet. The Comedy Channel and Ha! lost their more unique aspects in their merger to Comedy Central. The Cable Health Network stopped pitching tips about living well and became Lifetime. TLC used to stand for The Learning Channel. In all these cases, companies chased after a wider audience, all leading to a landscape where most networks have lost all sense of identity.

AT&T has already announced plans to create a single streaming destination for all of TimeWarner’s content. This mirrors moves by Disney and other big players looking to take on Netflix at its own game.

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The streaming boom is over and the gold rush has begun. When big players move in and try to aim for everyone, there will be fewer subscribers for the special interests. In an environment where big moves are the order of the day, it’s hard to see where a smaller service like FilmStruck fits into the equation.