Company investor AT&T on board with marketing, distribution and co-production deal
Fullscreen next month will launch a $4.99-monthly ad-free video service, a bet by the YouTube-centric media company that its blend of original and licensed content will resonate with millennials in an increasingly crowded over-the-top market.
Fullscreen’s subscription VOD service, set to debut April 26, will have more than 800 hours of content, including feature-length movies and series and original content from digital stars. The company has a major partner in AT&T, which will market the SVOD service to its 100 million-plus customer base and co-produce content with Fullscreen that will be distributed on DirecTV, U-verse and the Fullscreen service. Fullscreen is owned by Otter Media, a joint venture between AT&T and Chernin Group.
The service will have to vie for wallet-share against a range of other SVOD offerings, including Netflix, Hulu, Vessel, HBO Now and YouTube Red, Google’s $10-per-month ad-free video and music service that includes a lineup of original movies and series.
What makes Fullscreen’s approach different, according to founder and CEO George Strompolos, is that the company is vertically integrated: Its business runs across talent development, production, distribution and community-building. Fullscreen’s talent network encompasses some 75,000 creators, who generate more than 5 billion video views per month mostly on YouTube.
“Fullscreen is one thing: It’s great original content for people who grew up with the social web,” Strompolos said. “We think we can be the HBO Now of that space.”
Original content available in Fullscreen SVOD will include “Electra Woman & Dyna Girl,” starring Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart in a comedic reboot of Sid and Marty Krofft’s 1970s original; teen-drama satire “Filthy Preppy Teen$”; and “Shane & Friends,” a talk show hosted by YouTube star Shane Dawson.
Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime “are fantastic services,” Strompolos said, but Fullscreen’s SVOD play will be more narrowly tailored to a 13-to-30-year-old audience of heavy social-media users who aren’t interested in pay TV. “Our customers are saying, ‘I’m glad my dad has Netflix, but I want something for me,'” he said.
As for YouTube Red, the service “seems more like a feature of YouTube,” Strompolos said. “There’s a lot of value in it, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t know that the programming has a cohesive look and feel.”
At first, Fullscreen’s SVOD will comprise mostly licensed content in terms of hours, procured from Warner Bros. Television, Sony Pictures, NBCUniversal, MTV and others.
That includes older TV shows “Dawson’s Creek” and “Happy Endings” (Sony Pictures Television), “Saved by the Bell” (NBCU), “Suburgatory” (Warner Bros. TV) and “Daria” (MTV). Films in the Fullscreen lineup include “Cruel Intentions,” “Can’t Hardly Wait” and “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” (Sony Pictures Entertainment) and movies with digital stars including “Summer Forever” (Disney’s Maker Studios, Relativity Digital), “Man Up” (Off the Dock, Supergravity Pictures), “Camp Takota” (Rockstream) and “Elliott Morgan: Premature” (Supergravity).
“It’s been really interesting on the licensing front because we’re a new buyer,” Strompolos said. “We are obviously not spending as much as the big OTT players, but we’re going after an audience that is a sign of things to come in this space.”
For AT&T, Fullscreen SVOD is a key way for the telecommunications giant to reach younger consumers who are either cord-cutters or cord-nevers, as a complement to its DirecTV and U-verse TV services.
“This has been our approach to addressing an audience that may not necessarily be within the AT&T video ecosystem,” said Tony Goncalves, senior VP of strategy and business development for AT&T Entertainment Group. “It enhances AT&T’s brand in entertainment because we have to be sure we’re serving all segments of the market.”
AT&T will kick off direct marketing of Fullscreen SVOD within a few weeks of its launch. Plans aren’t fully set, but the telco expects to offer a benefit to AT&T customers who subscribe to the service, possibly in the form of a discount or access to additional premium content.
Fullscreen’s original scripted lineup includes: “Electra Woman & Dyna Girl”; “Filthy Preppy Teen$,” from Paul Scheer (“Party Over Here,” “Fresh Off the Boat”), Abominable Pictures and Jonathan Stern (“Childrens Hospital,” “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp”), a satire of contemporary teenage dramas; “Jack & Dean of All Trades,” a workplace comedy starring and created by Jack Howard and Dean Dobbs; “Making Moves,” a dance drama showcasing breathtaking moves from executive producers John Swetnam (“Step Up All In”), Amy Kim (“Sequestered”) and Jaime Burke (“Sequestered”); and Cameron Dallas and Nash Grier’s high-school baseball drama “The Outfield,” which topped iTunes charts in its release last year.
Unscripted series include “My Selfie Life,” created and executive produced by John Farrar (“Man v. Viral”) and Pete Cooksley (“Find My First Love”) and personality-driven programming including “Shane & Friends” featuring Shane Dawson, “Zall Good with Alexis G. Zall” and “Kingdom Geek.”
“Fullscreen SVOD will be uniquely positioned in the marketplace, with a signature personality and strong product features designed specifically for a millennial audience,” Chernin Group CEO Peter Chernin said in a statement.
The service will be on the web and via iPhone, iPad, select Android phones and Google Chromecast, with support for additional platforms promised at a later date. The service will be priced $4.99 per month in all countries worldwide, and Fullscreen will offer a 30-day free trial.
Content from Fullscreen’s subscription-video service will also wend its way into AT&T’s three DirecTV-branded OTT services, slated to launch in late 2016, as well as into the Audience Network channel available exclusively on DirecTV and U-verse TV.
Pictured above: Grace Helbig (l.) and Hannah Hart in “Electra Woman & Dyna Girl”