Documentary Plus, which launched in January as a streaming ad-supported video-on-demand service is jumping into the linear business with its first channel on Comcast’s Xumo platform.
The 24 hours a day, seven days a week channel will feature curated documentaries and non-fiction series will be available free to Xumo users.
Bryn Mooser, founder and CEO of Documentary Plus, told Broadcasting+Cable, he’s been pleasantly surprised by the interest in the service.
“As a documentary filmmaker myself, I knew there was a need for a platform like this,” Mooser said. "Streaming is making documentaries available to consumers in a broad way they never have been before."
Since its launch in January, Documentary Plus, a joint venture of nonfiction studio XTR and the late Tony Hsieh, has over 100,000 app installs, 2 million views on web and mobile devices, with the average user watching 80 minutes of nonfiction content.
Films in the true crime genre like The Imposter and Cartel Land have been among the most popular titles on the services. Sports, cult and funny documentaries have also done well.
Now free, ad supported linear channels are hot and Documentary Plus is taking advantage.
“This is a pretty revolutionary moment in terms of how people access content,” Mooser said. “I think FAST channels and AVOD in general is the most exciting space in streaming and its got the most room for growth. In every moment where there is a rapid growth in distribution, you have the opportunity to create the next generation of entertainment. What you’re seeing is the next generation of great channels and great networks being born.”
Working with Xumo gives Documentary Plus access to Xumo’s 24 million unique monthly viewers.
“The Documentary Plus channel will engage millions of Xumo users with its extensive range of premium documentary films and series, easily accessible across our wide distribution network,” stated Stefan Van Engen, senior VP of content partnerships and programming at Xumo. “Xumo continues to partner with best-in-class content providers and this new offering from Documentary Plus is no exception.”
Xumo offers more than 200 digital channels of free programming across 12 genres.
Mooser said Documentary Plus is talking to other distributors. “I want Documentary Plus to be available to as many people in the world as possible,” he said.
The channel will put its newest and best programming in prime time, while also attempting to remain topical. Documentaries about Afghanistan will be featured now, and when subjects like earthquakes in Haiti or cryptocurrencies are in the news, they’ll get rotated into the channel.
The same programming team that curates the VOD service will also use data on what’s working, what people like and what people are talking about to schedule films and shows.
Mooser said that as the channel was being developed, he had staffers watch UHF with Weird Al Yankovic, Wayne's World and A&E’s I Want My MTV documentary to get the spirit of a channel startup.
“The MTV people know that if they could just get the channel in front of people it would work, but access to the airwaves was so difficult back then, Mooser said. “For me and my team to be able to launch a 24/7 channel on documentaries that reaches millions of people with Xumo is just amazing.”
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Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.
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