Classic movie buffs were dealt a major blow today as it was announced that Warner Bros. and Turner are shutting down their streaming service FilmStruck. The service, which offers a selection of thousands of classic, indie and foreign movies, as well as access to the Criterion Collection, will end its service at the end of next month. This is one of the first casualties, likely one of many in the future, as major media companies look to make major plays in the streaming game aimed at the masses.
WarnerMedia, the newly formed company following the merger of AT&T and Time Warner, is in control of FilmStruck, which was launched in 2016. A subscription was $10.99 a month with the Criterion add on, or $6.99 a month without. Recently, we reported that Warner is looking to launch their own streaming service next year in order to compete with the likes of Netflix and Disney's upcoming direct-to-consumer service. With that, FilmStruck has been given the ax. This update was recently posted to the service's website.
"We regret to inform you that FilmStruck will be shutting down. Our last day of service will be November 29, 2018, and we are currently no longer enrolling new subscribers. All current FilmStruck subscribers will receive an email with details about your account and the refund process as applicable. Please see the options below for more information or email the customer service team at [email protected]"
While many people out there are quite happy with what Netflix and Hulu have to offer, this signals a larger problem for lovers of classic cinema. Many of these services don't feature a terribly comprehensive library of classic titles and having access to stream the Criterion Collection titles was a huge draw for FilmStruck subscribers. Those customers are going to be forced to turn elsewhere and, unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a great option in the marketplace right now for those types of movie lovers.
We're in an era when everyone is trying to launch their own streaming channel. That means it's going to become increasingly difficult for other studios or services to license content and consumers are going to have to shell out for multiple services to meet their needs. FilmStruck, and other niche services such as the horror-themed Shudder and Fandor, also geared at cinephiles, may struggle to survive as the competition gets tougher. Warner Bros. and Turner had this to say in a statement.
"We're incredibly proud of the creativity and innovations produced by the talented and dedicated teams who worked on FilmStruck over the past two years. While FilmStruck has a very loyal fanbase, it remains largely a niche service. We plan to take key learnings from FilmStruck to help shape future business decisions in the direct-to-consumer space and redirect this investment back into our collective portfolios."
This news also makes a case for the existence of physical media in an increasingly digital-heavy world. FilmStruck's death shows us that these services are businesses and, just like any other business, they can be shut down at a moment's notice. Those out there who perhaps purged their classic DVD/Blu-ray collection upon signing up for FilmStruck may want to reinvest in physical copies again. Anyone who may need to inquire about a refund, or those who just need to say their goodbyes, can head on over to FilmStruck.com