Multi-platform distributor Cinedigm announced some big changes to its OTT strategy during its Q1 2016 earnings call on Monday.
This month, the company will lower the subscription price of its geek-friendly streaming service ConTV — launched in March in partnership with convention producer Wizard World — from $6.99 to $4.99 a month, the same rate offered by Cinedigm’s faith and family VOD service the Dove Channel, launched in September. It will also be changing its programming philosophy, transitioning from a general “Netflix for Nerds” approach to more of a “Comic-Con VIP experience.”
“This positioning will focus our programming more on both live and recorded events and series from the actual Comic Cons themselves, both from our partners at Wizard World and other Comic Con and related live events, like our recent broadcast from the New York Comic Con,” said Cinedigm CEO Chris McGurk during the call, adding that ConTV currently carries approximately 2,600 hours of streaming content.
According to McGurk, ConTV has almost 100 thousand registered and nearly 600 thousand installs across Roku, iOS, Android and Samsung platforms, while Dove has more than 36 thousand registered users and 145 thousand installations on Android, iOS and Roku.
Cinedigm also announced plans to reconfigure its free documentary channel Docurama as an SVOD offering. Docurama began its life as a subscription service as part of YouTube’s Paid Channel initiative in summer 2013, but it transitioned to ad-supported OTT channel in May 2014.
Docurama currently has 800 hours of content on Docurama, and Cinedigm expects to increase it to over 1,200 hours once it migrates to a subscription service in the first quarter of 2016. Like ConTV and the Dove Channel, it will be priced at $4.99 a month
During Cinedigm’s Q4 2015 earnings call in August, the company reported that it was in discussions with potential distribution partners to put its channels in “skinny” distribution bundles or offer them as a la carte subscription services. On Monday, McGurk said that Cinedigm has signed such an agreement with a major platform for a subscription service that will include all three of its channels, Dove, Docurama and ConTV, and he hopes to reveal the partner. He also said that Cinedigm is also discussing bundling opportunities for its channels with other major technology and distribution platforms.
“The bundling opportunities are going to vary significantly based on the distributor, because they vary from a la carte subscription services to bundles where you’re going to getting a fraction of the subscriber revenue you’re going to get on your own web site, for instance,” McGurk said. “But, hopefully, you’re part of a package that’s going to have a much, much wider reach. The one specifically that we’re looking at would be a situation where, if it was an a la carte subscription service … you would basically share subscription revenues with your partner, or your partner would pick up all of the costs of sort of managing and marketing the service. So when you actually work it down on an operating margin basis… the economics are not that far off from a situation where we would have ConTV priced at $4.99 and we’d be taking that all in ourselves.”