Turner, other media players take cautious route to SVOD

Samantha Bookman, FierceOnlineVideo

After a flurry of announcements and activity at the end of 2015 regarding their planned direct-to-consumer efforts, traditional networks, broadcasters and even cable operators mostly have yet to launch their own subscription video on demand (SVOD) services. That's beginning to change, but the trend for now appears to be cautious circling of the online video industry.

The slower pace of major SVOD launches was evident in the first quarter of 2016, as our latest feature shows.

Case in point is Turner Networks. Despite pretty definitive success with its live-stream of the NCAA's March Madness tournament over the past six years, the network had yet to launch a subscription-based service, preferring to license its content to SVOD providers like Hulu. That changed this week with the announcement that Turner was partnering with Criterion Collection to launch its first direct-to-consumer streaming service, FilmStruck.

Pricing and an exact launch date were not announced, but expect FilmStruck to land sometime in the fall.

It's not too surprising that many traditional media players are being cautious about how and when -- or even if -- they launch an SVOD service. As the recent NAB Show revealed, there's still plenty of industry concern about the quality and reliability of online video delivery, and most of all the costs involved in shifting content – and infrastructure – to an OTT video environment. Some of that is mitigated by cloud services, which are themselves evolving to meet a next-generation structure that includes software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) – terms that are a little bit new to those just beginning to explore online video management and delivery services. That is just one aspect that traditional media and entertainment companies need to navigate before committing to an SVOD strategy.

Take a look at our latest quarterly breakdown of the major SVOD service launches for the first quarter (and a little beyond) in this special report.