During Quarantine, Focused Streaming Services Find an Audience

From the Criterion Channel to Shudder

Criterion Channel Logo
Focused streaming services are finding an audience.
Criterion Channel

The era of “Peak TV” seems to be morphing into the era of Peak Streaming before our eyes, with the high-profile debuts of HBO Max and Quibi as the latest salvos in what’s becoming a crowded landscape. And it’s not hard to see why: with more people spending time at home due to the pandemic, that’s left plenty of time to binge-watch television shows and movies in abundance.

A new report from Kate Erbland at IndieWire suggests that the winners of this moment are the streaming services that focus on doing one thing well, rather than being all things to all people. Erbland notes that both Netflix and Disney+ have seen substantial growth in recent months, which is understandable. But the outlook does seem positive for more focused streaming services as well:

While niche outfits like The Criterion Channel, IFC Films Unlimited, and Magnolia Selects are never going to rack up the tens of millions of paid subscribers of their heavy-hitter brethren, they are finding success on their own terms. The last three months have proven just that, as the biggest names in the indie streaming world have enjoyed growing subscribers and reach as more people have sought out fresh entertainment in the safety of their homes.

While there aren’t many numbers cited for the smaller services, those that are sharing data are revealing an increase in subscribers. Erbland also covers Kino Lorber, which recently announced partnerships with the New Republic and the Knitting Factory.

It’s not that surprising to see more focused services doing well. If you’re a fan of horror movies, subscribing to Shudder makes a lot of sense; the same is true for the Criterion Channel‘s focus on foreign cinema and classic movies. Trying to program films for a massive audience is one thing; the success of these services demonstrates the power of good curation.

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