Deeper Dive—Struum could become an MVPD for smaller streaming services

From left to right: Thomas Wadsworth, Paul Pastor, Lauren DeVillier and Eugene Liew. (Struum)

Struum, an upcoming streaming video aggregation and discovery service, could serve as a sort of multichannel distributor for smaller and niche SVODs.

Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max and other major SVODs grab most of the headlines but they’re just a few of the hundreds of streaming services available in the U.S. Struum, which is planning to launch in early spring, wants to offer a simplified path to discovering programming from across what it calls an increasingly cluttered premium SVOD landscape.

Struum was founded by Lauren DeVillier, former head of product for Discovery Ventures who now serves as the company’s CEO, along with Eugene Liew, former vice president of product and technology at Disney+; Paul Pastor, former executive vice president of strategy, revenue and operations at Discovery Networks; and Thomas Wadsworth, former lead for advanced product development for Walt Disney Imagineering. The service has already banked a multi-million-dollar investment from former Disney CEO Michael Eisner through his Tornante Company.

DeVillier said Struum sees itself as an aggregator of brands and services that provides consumers with a single touchpoint to sample shows and movies that they may not have found otherwise.

“It is an underserved market. We are providing a front porch for consumers to find this content more readily,” said DeVillier in an email. “We understand people will likely go to Netflix, Amazon, Disney+ or HBO Max first or second. We believe by aggregating these smaller services, we want to be your next choice.”

Struum is working closely with content partners – the company said it has already struck deals with nearly three dozen services – to provide a unique experience and to optimally brand content within the platform.

“We want consumers to search, discover and choose content that they didn’t know they would love. So, yes, we are a rebundler of brands and services that will provide a frictionless experience to the consumer,” DeVillier said.

Struum is currently building its streaming technology platform within Microsoft Azure’s cloud architecture with help from Firstlight Media, which is also an investor. The idea is to let smaller SVODs optimize discoverability of their programs and services while providing consumers with a simple way to find programming and services they are most likely to enjoy. The key to Struum’s strategy is selling one subscription to consumers, who in turn use the platform’s credit-based system to discover and consume content.

DeVillier described it as a Class Pass model, where consumers are charged a monthly fee for a set amount of credits that they can use to sample different services and content. Struum’s goal is to have consumers come to the platform and consume at least one show or movie per day.

“With that, we will also be able to see how people are watching shows, so if we see someone watch a lot of one content provider’s service, we will recommend to them that they seem to really like that brands content and they may be better served by having a subscription to that service so they can now freely use their credits otherwise and get the value of the managed subscription within the Struum platform,” DeVillier said.

Struum has built up a library of more than 20,000 TV series, movies and short films. The company said more details about pricing, launch date and its specific SVOD partner services will be unveiled in the coming months.

In addition to Eisner, the company has brought on Nancy Tellem, former president of CBS Entertainment and Xbox Entertainment; Ben Pyne, former president of Disney/ABC Television Distribution; and Donald Hicks, who heads global operations at Twitter, to serve on its advisory board.