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AMC’s Best-of-British Streamer Acorn TV Launches in 30 New Territories

Acorn TV launched in 30 new markets Tuesday, the biggest wave of international launches to date for the AMC-owned streaming service, which focuses on British and English-language drama.

The platform is now live in Australia and New Zealand, India, Spain, the Nordics, the Benelux countries and South Africa. The international rollout started in June, when Acorn TV launched in a plethora of markets in Latin America. More territories in that region were added as part of Tuesday’s wave.

AMC Networks has just closed a $65 million deal to buy Acorn TV parent company RLJ Entertainment, but the international rollout plans were being put into place ahead of that.

Rights deals mean that not every show from the service in the U.S. will be immediately available in every territory. Matthew Graham, SVP and GM for Acorn TV, told Variety that the “strategy has been to start with a focused offering of key titles that we feel define the service and then, as we do in the U.S., add content on a weekly basis and keep building that library so that it expands relatively quickly.”

Graham highlighted “Doc Martin,” Iain Glen’s Irish detective drama “Jack Taylor,” and Toby Jones miniseries “The Secret Agent” as some of the service’s key titles.

Graham said that Acorn will reach out directly to consumers, but that discussions are also underway with platforms and other partners. “We see the international market shaping up much as it has in the U.S., which is [that] you have a direct-to-consumer piece, which is important for understanding the consumer and making programming decisions, and then you have a business-to-business piece with the telcos and cable operators who can be fabulous partners and help you grow quickly,” he said.

It was a big news day Tuesday in terms of international launches for specialized streaming services. Major players such as AMC and NBCUniversal, which rolled out reality-TV SVOD service hayu in Benelux, are betting that consumers will shell out for multiple streaming services as well as the more generalist offerings from giants like Amazon and Netflix.

The likes of Discovery and Turner are also making direct-to-consumer plays. Disney is expected to enter the fray next year.

“We know that the vast majority of our subscribers are also subscribing to Netflix and Amazon and Hulu, and we’re very comfortable being an a la carte add-on to that mix,” he said. “We are a very reliable source for a particular type of very high-quality content, and it’s a real challenge for the big services to be able to deliver content with such a curated focus.”

Together with SVOD stablemate Urban Movie Channel, Acorn TV had more than 800,000 subscribers by mid-2018. Its current trajectory suggests it will hit the million-subscriber mark in early 2019.

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