Fullscreen SVOD Will Blend Tech and Programming Flair, Execs Say

Fullscreen, a $5-a-month SVOD service launching April 26 with backing from AT&T and Peter Chernin's Otter Media, will feature 1,000 hours of original and licensed programming, the company's executives said during a pre-launch event at its New York offices.

The target audience is 13-to-30-year-old "social-first" viewers. Befitting that focus, the launch slate features The Deleted, a violent thriller from American Psycho novelist Bret Easton Ellis, daily meta-sketch show Party in the Back, broad spoof Filthy Preppy Teen$, and superhero riff Electra Woman & Dyna Girl, from YouTube stars Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart. The content offering is rounded out by talk shows with Alexis G. Zall and others and library fare including Dawson's Creek, Chappelle's Show and Daria.   

The Ellis show, per the company, is a thriller that tracks "the disappearance of three seemingly unconnected people from Los Angeles" that spooks a group of 20-somthings who had survived being members of a cult. Ellis, whose work has been translated to film and, most recently, the Broadway stage, has generally not played in the TV space because of the darkness and intensity of his material. But he said Fullscreen, which had pursued the project for a year and a half, if anything encouraged him to go all-out and push the violent, disturbing elements.

That guidance was not an accident, according to founder and CEO George Strompolos. "We've spent a lot of time with this new generation of creators and we've listened to them," he said. "You're going to see some subscription players in video and traditional networks jump in and say, 'Hey, we're going to do something with these social media kids.' And that's cool and we encourage all that. But for us, this is what we're all about. Talent and creators are in our DNA."

Fullscreen will launch on Apple and Android mobile devices as well as Chromecast, with a 30-day free trial period preceding the $4.99 monthly ad-free rate. COO Andy Forssell said the company would "run the table" and add more distribution partners over the coming months. He said the differentiating factor for Fullscreen, which joins a crowded field of 100-plus SVOD services, would be that it combines programming savvy with technical execution. In coming years, a range of services would be "post-cable" as well as "post-tech and post-Netflix." In order to succeed, he argued, "you can't just be a media company and bolt on some simple technology," he said. "And you can't be a technology company and learn a little bit about programming. You have to be really good at both to lead the way in the next five to 10 years. That is hard to do. We're psyched and we think we have the team to do it."

Fullscreen also has AT&T, which will market and promote the service to its 100 million-plus video, mobile and broadband customers. This summer, Fullscreen and AT&T will co-produce premium content that will air both on Fullscreen SVOD and on a Fullscreen programming block on AT&T’s Audience Network for DirecTV and U-verse subscribers. 

Fullscreen Media, the parent company of the SVOD service, launched in 2011. Its 600 million subscribers generate more than 5 billion video views across Fullscreen's global network each month. The network includes 75,000 creators, including Grace Helbig, The Fine Bros., filmmaker Devin SuperTramp, Andrea Russett and Jack and Jack.

Another key stakeholder in Fullscreen is ad giant WPP, which is driving an influencer marketing effort announced in January.