Struum streams ahead with new credit-based SVoD service
Armed with a fresh round of funding, Struum, a startup led by former Disney and Discovery execs, has sparked the commercial launch of a subscription VoD (SVoD) service that sidesteps the tried-and-true all-you-can eat model pioneered by major streamers such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video.
Instead, Struum's service takes a credit-based approach for a library that aggregates a wide range of movies, documentaries, TV episodes and shorts from more than 60 content partners. Struum's baseline service starts at $4.99 per month for 100 credits. Customers can purchase additional credits if they're running low – 20 additional credits for 99 cents, 40 credits for $1.99 and 60 credits for $2.99. Leftover credits are rolled over to the following month.
Struum subscribers apply their credits toward various pieces of content, and have 30 days of unlimited viewing once a piece of content has been redeemed. Struum's content partners determine the credit-value of their content. For example, documentaries on the Rolling Stones or the James Bond films fetch four credits each while a short film from Indieflix called Love Notes can be accessed for one credit.
Struum launched a preview in May that aimed to operationalize the platform and ingest content on a limited set of platforms (IoS, web browsers, Google Chromecast and Apple AirPlay). With this week's commercial launch, Struum is extending support for several other platforms, including Android-based devices, Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV.
Securing distribution on those platforms is critical to Struum, CEO Lauren Devillier said, hinting that the company will soon have more to share about distribution on smart TVs and tie-ups with telcos and other partners.
This week's commercial launch was timed with the announcement of a $7 million "A" round led by Canadian media company Corus Entertainment, with help from Gaingels. Struum had already received a multi-million investment from Tornante Company, an outfit led by former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, along with additional funding from other angel investors.
"Our goal with this new funding round is to grow the content library with the medium to long-tail players in the market," said Devillier, the former head of product for Discovery Ventures and head of digital for Disney Channels.
Struum, she said, is focused on a wide range of genres and "passion verticals." Early on, Struum is featuring collections focused on documentaries, cooking, true crime, horror and LGBTQ+. Examples of its 60-plus content partners include Docurama, Magellan, Magnolia Pictures, BBC Select, Cheddar News, ConTV, Indieflix, Filmbox, Tribeca, Dox, Tribeca, Tastemade, Stingray Karaoke and Thrillist.
Struum will also use the funding to enhance an underlying platform developed with tech partners such as Firstlight Media, a company formed last year via the acquisition of AT&T's QuickPlay assets.
Devillier said Struum will use a blend of AI and reviewers to help personalize the service and help customers search and discover content from the service's array of content partners. Struum also plans to add previews, trailers and richer metadata to beef up the customer experience and to provide subscribers with more detail about a given title before they commit credits. In the meantime, Struum this week introduced a free seven-day trial to give prospective subs a way to try out the service.
"We are putting a lot of thought around curating the content that sits on the platform for ease of use for our customer base," she said.
Struum isn't revealing subscriber figures, but Devillier said customers have been quick to understand the service's credit-based model and how it can be used to skim Struum's library and pick and choose what they want to watch.
"We're pleased with the install base," she said, noting that Struum is now moving ahead with some direct paid media to help get the word out, along with some marketing through its content partners.
Struum, currently available in the US, is also exploring an international strategy. The initial plan is to launch in Canada toward the end of 2022, and then expand to other territories that are yet-to-be-announced.
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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading