Streaming Web channel to feature vintage drama

Lovers of vintage Brit drama now have a streaming Web channel in Acorn Media’s Acorn TV, a service devoted to the distrib’s catalog of U.K. programming.

The company is eyeing TV distribution down the line, but in the interim is trying to build a base with Web-based VOD. The subscription-based website costs $24.99 a year (though it’s free through Aug. 31) and includes such evergreen series as “Agatha Christie’s Poirot” and “Upstairs Downstairs,” with a heavy emphasis on mystery programming.

Acorn principals said their model — until now a mail-order business — has focused on serving women, and their demographic skews younger than conventional wisdom would suggest. Though the company holds mostly DVD and digital rights to its catalog, it’s been quietly acquiring broadcast rights to such shows as “Foyle’s War,” as well, in preparation for an eventual shift to TV.

“Through our long-term relationship with our target audience, Acorn Media has helped introduce British dramas and mystery programs in North America,” said Acorn topper Miguel Penella. “With Acorn TV, we can offer these programs on an anytime and, ultimately, anywhere basis.

Acorn is using intra-company promotions to boost its viewership, including offering free shipping on orders from its ink-and-paper catalog as a sweetener to goose subscriptions.

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