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The rise of niche streaming services

Adriene Hill Jul 10, 2015
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Whether you want to watch foreign TV shows, or horror flicks, or maybe something to inspire a good cry, there’s a subscription streaming service that wants to sign you up.

“We’re a boutique, niche service,” says Rob Fried, the CEO of Hallmark-owned Feeln. “We’re appealing to a certain audience.”

Feeln’s niche is feel-goodmovies. For about $2 a month, subscribers get a steady stream of Hallmark movies, Hollywood happy endings and some original content. It’s all in one place, no digging through Netflix and Amazon required. 

“A lot of people don’t like to poke around,” Fried says. “We do a lot of that heavy lifting for you.” 

Curation is a big selling point for many of these services.

But for others, access is the selling point. Take Screambox, a$4 a month streaming service for horror movies.

When DVD’s died, what were horror fans to do?” asks Ray Cannella, who heads programming at Screambox.

Video stores used to be the go to, but they have mostly disappeared. You’re not going to find uncut slasher films on television. “I like to think that I like to shoot for a level of depravity that is not found anywhere else,” laughs Cannella.

Other players rushing into the subscription game have more run-of-the-mill ambitions. They are looking for new ways to bundle and sell content they’ve already created.

Nickelodeon has a subscription service for toddlers. Lifetime has packaged up its special brand of melodramas.

It makes sense for the entities that hold the rights to content to move into digital distribution and going straight to consumers,” says Amanda Lotz, a communications professor at the University of Michigan.

Consumers, it seems, are increasingly willing to create their own entertainment experience and pay for it.

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