VRV is now the exclusive subscription VOD home for “Killjoys” catch-up seasons in the U.S., as the multichannel service from AT&T/Chernin Group-owned Ellation looks to put a new sci-fi shine to its content lineup and pull in new customers.
VRV is launching all three seasons of the futuristic bounty-hunter series that have aired on Syfy on Tuesday (July 31), under a multiyear deal with NBCUniversal. “Killjoys” was renewed for two final seasons at Syfy, and season 4 premiered July 20 on the cabler. VRV will obtain access to season 4 and 5 of “Killjoys” after they finish their TV run.
The full first season of “Killjoys” will be available free, with ads, on VRV — a sampling strategy aimed at enticing fans to buy a full subscription to VRV Premium, on which the subsequent seasons will be available. (Past seasons will continue to be available on-demand to pay-TV subscribers.)
VRV Premium is a $9.99 monthly bundle that includes 11 different channels, spanning anime, animation, horror and other genres: Crunchyroll (owned by Ellation), Rooster Teeth, Funimation, Shudder, CuriostyStream, Cartoon Hangover, DramaFever, Nerdist, Mubi, and Mondo.
“Killjoys” is available on the VRV Select channel, available only to paying subscribers. The show stars Hannah John-Kamen, Aaron Ashmore and Luke MacFarlane as a trio of bounty hunters roaming the Quad, a conflict-torn corner of the galaxy, looking to land deadly warrants.
The deal with NBCU for the sci-fi series marks the first time VRV has directly licensed a current TV series.
“It’s definitely a pivotal deal for us at VRV,” said Eric Berman, head of business development and partnerships at VRV. Content the company acquires for the VRV Select channel is “super-quality content we know is going to hit directly with our audience — which ‘Killjoys’ is.”
“Killjoys” is produced by Boat Rocker Studios’ Temple Street (the company behind “Orphan Black”) in association with Space and Syfy. It’s executive produced by creator Michelle Lovretta and showrunner Adam Barken, along with David Fortier, Ivan Schneeberg, Stephan Pleszczynski and Karen Troubetzkoy. Universal Cable Productions distributes the series worldwide.
“VRV is a perfect home for ‘Killjoys’ and we’re excited for this opportunity to expand the show’s audience to VRV’s passionate sci-fi fans,” said Burns McNamee, VP of television and new media distribution for NBCUniversal.
The “Killjoys” deal is part of VRV’s broader focus on sci-fi. It recently struck a deal with MGM to bring all the “Stargate” series and movies to VRV Select, as well as Gunpowder & Sky’s “Dust” anthology series of sci-fi shorts. Other content in VRV Select includes shows from NBCU’s now-defunct Seeso service including Dan Harmon’s “HarmonQuest” and “The Cyanide and Happiness Show,” and Warner Bros./Amblin Television’s “Freakazoid.”
Also on the sci-fi track, Syfy’s “Channel Zero” horror anthology series is coming to AMC Networks’ Shudder SVOD service, with the first installment to be available on Aug. 9. That means VRV Premium will get access to “Channel Zero” through the Shudder channel on the service, Berman noted.
Meanwhile, VRV is expanding into a new content category: nostalgic animation. VRV has acquired exclusive streaming rights to two classic Warner Bros. Animation titles — “ThunderCats” and “SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron” — for the premium subscription tier. The 26 episodes of “ThunderCats,” which aired on Cartoon Network in 2011-12, became available July 26; 24 episodes of “SWAT Kats,” which aired on TBS in the ’90s, is launching Aug. 8.
“Two of the biggest categories we’ve been working on sci-fi and animation, and they both pair nicely with anime,” said Berman.
VRV is looking at debuting a full channel dedicated to nostalgic animation, according to Berman, in partnership with content owners that have large libraries of cult-favorite animated shows.
In a similar vein, VRV is in talks with traditional media companies to bring “meaningful brands” from their TV or movie franchises to the SVOD platform. Those, according to Berman, should pass “The T-shirt test”: “You should be able to imagine somebody walking around a mall with the brand on their chest, because it really represents who they are.”