FilmStruck resolves launch day sign-up problems, says user volume was the culprit

FilmStruck will feature classic movie collections including several Akira Kurosawa films. Image: FilmStruck(FilmStruck / Turner)

Despite a day-one issue that caused its sign-up process to go down temporarily, Turner's new SVOD service, FilmStruck, officially launched on Tuesday with a free 14-day trial available to new subscribers. The service, which brings classic and hard-to-find films to the online video market, rolled out initially to desktop and Android devices and later in the day to iPhone and iPad.

Some users looking to sign up on the website on Tuesday afternoon were disappointed, initially.

A message across the top of the site read “Sign-Ups are currently unavailable. Please check back soon. We apologize for any inconvenience.” The message appeared intermittently throughout the afternoon, suggesting that the sign-up process wasn’t completely down.

FilmStruck confirmed to FierceOnlineVideo that a high volume of subscriber sign-ups was the cause of the problem – suggesting that Turner has a hit on its hands.

Earlier on Tuesday afternoon, the service posted a message on Twitter that said it was putting sign-ups “on hold for the moment. More to come,” and that a huge influx of new subscribers was possibly bogging down the system.

That was a bit of a setback for the new classic films service, which partnered with the Criterion Collection to offer a large slate of movies like The Kid, The Lost Patrol and Rashomon (part of an impressive collection of Akira Kurosawa films). However, users commenting via FilmStruck's Twitter account were surprisingly patient about the issue.

"No worries," said one user in reply to FilmStruck's tweet, "I'll grab the app and wait like a child on christmas day to enjoy it."

"It's OK," said another user, "us early adopters come with seatbelts pre-fastened. Take the time you need, we'll still be here."

By early evening, the problem appeared to have been resolved.

Originally scheduled to launch on October 19, Turner delayed its bow-in until November, in part due to sign-up issues that it wanted to resolve ahead of time. It's notable that the SVOD service rolled out to both Android and iOS platforms on the same day, rather than the staggered launch that was originally planned with the mid-October date.

RELATED: Filmstruck SVOD service delayed as Turner tackles sign-up issues

Part of the enthusiasm around FilmStruck, compared to other SVOD services offering older films, is the cachet that Criterion Collection brings to the content offering, particularly with hard-to-find films. A FlavorWire article said that Turner Classic Movies and Criterion are “two of the most valued brands in cinema circles.”

Unlike Netflix, the service will offer much more tightly curated content, rotating titles in and out each week as part of a much smaller selection that FlavorWire called “awe-inspiring” in terms of the classic collections available. For perspective, the article noted, “FilmStruck will let viewers stream 19 different Francois Truffaut films, from his 1959 debut The 400 Blows to his final picture, 1983’s Confidentially Yours. Netflix, on the other hand, isn’t streaming any Truffaut movies. (They don’t even offer 19 of his films for DVD rental.)”

The service clearly aims to fill this gap in the online content market. While the available films on day one appeared to be somewhat limited, another large batch of Criterion films will become available after Nov. 11, when Criterion’s contract with Hulu expires, freeing up more content.

The SVOD service is offering three service tiers at sign-up, which take effect once the trial period has expired:

  • $6.99 for a monthly curated library of select content.
  • $10.99 to add Criterion Channel original and bonus content.
  • $99 per year for a plan that gives users full access at a $30 annual savings.