macocael

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About macocael

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  1. First of all, this is not about the lack of sufficient patronage to provide "support" — WarnerMedia never claimed to have done this as a money saving move. Second, there are in fact enough serious cinephiles to make it viable, and we should not assume that mass market entertainment cannot make room for a few niche services, if the relation is handled smartly. TCM itself is evidence of that. Just as TCM is a viable cable enterprise, FilmStruck was proving to be a viable streaming enterprise. And to argue that "all that matters" is that the dreck stays in business while FS goes out, as if that somehow proves the immutability of some imagined law of the market, is to jump to conclusions. All it proves is that WarnerMedia is aiming for mediocre mass entertainment, rather than keep already viable niche services going. It's not a question of non-profitability but simply a naked grab for mass profitability and disregard for the smaller profits to be had by investing in quality cinema. As Joanna Scutts put it, "it’s clear that the company has no interest in catering to passionate fans of its back catalog, only in chasing the largest possible audience for its new releases. What’s not clear is why it has to be a zero-sum game, and why efforts at preservation and education have to be eliminated in order to chase the biggest possible audience and present them with a library far broader than it is deep. . . . This is a slow erosion of cultural heritage under the guise of infinite availability."
  2. I have come across a couple good articles that explain the real loss this represents, and the best is Joanna Scutts' piece in Slate: "The strangled corporate newspeak of the memo announcing the closure, with its reference to the “learnings” to be gleaned from the FilmStruck experiment, engenders the same kind of helpless rage as the tortured syntax of Donald Trump’s tweets—it’s so painfully revealing of the kind of grandiose carelessness that is the hallmark of power right now. As Warner gears up to face down Disney with its direct-to-consumer streaming service, launching next year, it’s clear that the company has no interest in catering to passionate fans of its back catalog, only in chasing the largest possible audience for its new releases. What’s not clear is why it has to be a zero-sum game, and why efforts at preservation and education have to be eliminated in order to chase the biggest possible audience and present them with a library far broader than it is deep. . . . This is a slow erosion of cultural heritage under the guise of infinite availability. Titles that are not available to stream will be harder to assign in classes, will cease to bubble up into the cultural awareness, and will eventually cease to matter. . . . FilmStruck . . . set out to teach you something new, not just to feed you more helpings of what you already know you like. It employed a team of smart women and brought in directors like Barry Jenkins to record short, passionate introductions to films they loved. Its personality shone through tightly curated collections, from a timely gathering of all the previous incarnations of A Star Is Born, to a larger batch of Japanese horror titles, to deep dives into a particular director or cinematographer. It offered up inventive double-feature pairings and led you through its extensive archives in ways that were creative, cheeky, thought-provoking, and unpretentious. It made it clear that a passion for art-house and classic film was not exclusive to old white men. That kind of personality, that kind of discoverability, that kind of curation, can’t be replicated by an algorithm. It takes time, money, and effort. It takes thought and education. It takes human beings."
  3. On the contrary, the fee for combined viewing of FilmStruck and the Criterion Channel was a modest $10.99, and for those of us who appreciate the incredible library of films, which included not just Classic Hollywood but much much more, this was the solution to our cinematic needs, a solution like no other, because it did not try to be like every other streaming channel. Though Warner and AT&T refer to it as a "niche service," it was not confined, content-wise, to any one genre or niche; it offered the very best of film art, which is not a marginal thing, but the very core of this modern art form. I personally would gladly pay much more for this service. Lightening the TV load is no problem for most of us, because FS was the single most important channel in our menu, and there was no need to subscribe to all that other dreck. Like many another consumer decision, it is simply a matter of priorities, and one can easily budget for it and keep costs down. The audience for FS need not be limited to older people on fixed incomes, because it was not just about classic films; it went beyond the TCM model. It was a channel for filmmakers, film students, art house fans, global cinema fans, etc. Plenty of young people would get on board, if the marketing people had taken a more aggressive and imaginative approach. And as for making all the movies available all the time—there is so much available that it is impossible for anyone to encompass it all, and some rotation was not only desirable but necessary. Plus the weekly presentation of new fare is expertly and enticingly done, so it is a pleasure to look forward to Fridays, when they break out the new themed collections, double bills (on Criterion), and director packages. The curation is a big part of what makes FilmStruck so good. Moreover, if a film expires on FilmStruck, it is likely still accessible via Criterion, so subscribing to both streams ensures that one can still see, for example, all of Bergman's films even after that segment on FilmStruck has been retired to make way for the films of some other director. One of the considerable strengths of FilmStruck is that it IS very well thought through—it is the most intelligent streaming channel I have ever watched. Unlike the haphazard organization that characterizes Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon, FilmStruck exhibits not just a superior understanding of film art, but a keen grasp of how best to present it. Streaming as a whole may not be a panacea, but FilmStruck certainly is manna for serious cinephiles. And the fact is, streaming is the future of Television, and channels like TCM need to establish some dominion over this new market, or they will disappear. FilmStruck is a wonderful means for TCM to accomplish that.
  4. macocael

    Aftermath: Are We in Serious Danger of Losing TCM?

    But FilmStruck is not just for viewing on little screens. In fact, I doubt any of us do so. You can watch the films on your television, just as you do with TCM and WatchTCM. It could be that confusion over the advantages of streaming channels was one factor in FilmStruck's inability to acquire more subscribers. That and the lack of any strong marketing campaign. It's a real shame because FS provides not only a great library of films but all the extras to go with it. The presentation and curation are top notch. This is a film lover's dream, and I very much doubt that any other company will ever achieve anything like it. The people at TCM who were tapped to run it know their business, and their business is quality cinema. WarnerMedia, unfortunately, is run by a bunch of beancounters who are aiming at Mass Market Entertainment, like Amazon and Netflix and Hulu. The very fact that they are interested only in copying that model, rather than offering something different like FilmStruck, reveals their lack of imagination and, consequently, a very dismal prospect for the future of televised cinema.
  5. macocael

    WarnerMedia Streaming Service

    well now we know what WarnerMedia was planning all along: Warner's original statement, quoted by LawrenceA at the head of this thread, was vague: AT&T has revealed that it plans to unveil a direct-to-consumer streaming video service featuring WarnerMedia’s films and TV series by the end of next year. The aim is to bring a direct competitor to VOD giants like Netflix, Disney and Amazon, one that includes Warners’ portfolio – everything from HBO through Turner and Warner Brothers properties (including their vast film and TV libraries) with the company planning to forgo future licensing deals with rivals in order to obtain all their rights back. No details were revealed about how much the service will cost, what its name will be or the date it will become available. Nor is there any word as to how it will impact existing Warner-owned SVOD services like HBO Now and DC Universe beyond it being described as a service with HBO’s library as its anchor and a ‘collection of boutiques’ around it. The shutting down of FilmStruck makes it pretty clear that they intend to go mainstream and cut out the "boutique" stuff. With HBO and Warner's films as the anchor, they will develop something much like Netflix and Amazon. As if we need more of the same. I love Warner Bros films as much as anyone, but on its own it's insufficient compared to what FilmStruck strove to achieve. Adding the Criterion Channel to TCM's hollywood classics with a dash of more contemporary films (like Pedro Costa's work, or Miguel Gomes, Lucrecia Martel, et al.), and all the other extras, proved to be a very attractive formula for this type of "niche service," to use the industry lingo. And the people at TCM were the perfect choice to run it. I don't expect much from this new venture WarnerMedia has in mind.
  6. So now I'm really ****. Not only are they cutting me off, they didn't give me a t-shirt either! Something to remember them by would have been a small consolation ? Btw, scsu1975, love the profile pic.
  7. It turns out that this is all a part of the nefarious attempt by AT&T "to not seem like a giant monopolistic media company sucking at the teet of the American public by relying on subsidies and overpriced data plans to stay afloat," as one writer on Gizmodo put it. In the Variety article announcing the move, they state that "The move appeared to be the latest by WarnerMedia, under AT&T’s ownership, to streamline operations by cutting niche-oriented business ventures. Two sources familiar with the decision said the plan to kill FilmStruck was made prior to AT&T’s closing the Time Warner deal; in any case, the strategy aligns with the new WarnerMedia blueprint to shift resources to mass-market entertainment services." (Variety, Oct 26) Warner may well have conceived such a blueprint before the merger, but I have no doubt that AT&T had a hand in this, and Warner's blueprint may well have been cooked up in order to make the company more attractive to such a merger. Anyway, I find the justifications all a bit hard to swallow: "Turner and WB Digital Networks said, “We’re incredibly proud of the creativity and innovations produced by the talented and dedicated teams who worked on FilmStruck over the past two years. While FilmStruck has a very loyal fanbase, it remains largely a niche service." (quoted from the Variety article). If they are so proud of FilmStruck, then why couldn't they get behind it and market it properly? If TCM can command enough of the cable TV market to make it viable, FilmStruck certainly could command enough of the online streaming market to do so. All it takes is imaginative marketing to spread the word and create sufficient enticements. To call a channel that streams the very best cinema a mere "niche service" is a gross misconception. It's only a niche if you treat it as such, which is what they did. But WarnerMedia's shift to "mass-market entertainment services" really means that they are just going to do what everyone else is doing, and we already have more than enough of that. They are simply joining the Limbo of Mediocrity that rules our media environment. Monopolies like this are prejudicial to the interests of consumers, even if they offer their services more cheaply. Everything else is cheapened too. Quality is not something you can measure on a graph. Back in June AT&T issued a celebratory comment on its acquisition. Randall Stephenson, chairman and CEO of AT&T said: “The content and creative talent at Warner Bros., HBO and Turner are first-rate. Combine all that with AT&T’s strengths in direct-to-consumer distribution, and we offer customers a differentiated, high-quality, mobile-first entertainment experience.” The statement went on to tout the "Premium Content" that AT&T now was able to distribute. Turns out that was all just bushwa. Rather than differentiation, they are opting for centralization and homogeneity; and their notion of "high quality" has little to do with actual content. They are technicians, tinkerers.
  8. Well this is truly a bummer. Today I found a message in my inbox from Criterion and the FilmStruck channel that "Turner and Warner Bros. Digital Networks announced plans to shut down FilmStruck," which will stop streaming on November 29. For the cinephiles among us this has got to be a terrible blow. Despite all the streaming options, there is nothing quite like FilmStruck, and even the most interesting among them, such as Fandor, do not offer anything as well done as FilmStruck, which is a great mix of classic Hollywood, Art House, global cinema, the entire Criterion collection, history and scholarship all in one highly intelligent and very exciting package. I stopped streaming anything else because FilmStruck offered so much great content. Between FilmStruck and TCM I needed nothing else. I wish there were something we could do to change the management's thinking on this. This is more than an entertainment channel, this is a unique window onto the history of global cinema, a means of preserving the best of films in a form that continues to ensure their relevance, and a superb means of effectively combining scholarship, preservation, and sheer pleasure in filmmaking. This channel is too important to peremptorily shut down in this manner. This is a terrible decision. Surely the art of film—an art that has defined the modern age more than any other—deserves better than a bean-counter's assessment of its viability! Seriously Disappointed in Turner and Warner Bros.
  9. macocael

    WATCH TCM not working

    In the middle of running through the catalogue of films on WatchTCM, I was suddenly asked to sign in via my cable subscriber, and every time I tried it, the website claimed there was a problem and I should try again. The problem is not mine, however, it's TCM's! Plus, if I click on the Contact Us or Help links, I get a warning message from my browser telling me there is something fishy with the certificate and I should not proceed. I think that TCM's digital team is busy building two sites and constantly reconstructing -- there is the Streaming channel, Filmstruck, and WatchTCM. It's frustrating to experience these growing pains, but these are my favorite channels, so I grin and bear it. ?
  10. macocael

    Three Cheers for Noir Alley

    Absolutely loving it. Eddie Muller's substantial intros are excellent and the lineup is great, focusing as it does on some of the less well known but fascinating examples of the genre. I don't know about the scheduling though -- it competes with the Sunday morning news programs, and it really deserves a prime time slot.
  11. macocael

    Our Members Tributes to Robert Osborne (1932-2017)

    It's a tough blow. I was expecting this news, given his absence, but the blow is no less deflating. I feel as though a member of the family or a good friend has died. The spirit of Robert Osborne lives on in the institution that he helped create.
  12. macocael

    So what do you think of FilmStruck?

    Ray's Apu Trilogy was missing from Hulu's Criterion selection, as well as pasolini's Trilogy of Life, Fellini's Nights of Cabiria, Brando's One Eyed Jacks, Some of Altman's films, lots of Buñuel's films, etc. I want to know whether the titles will be rotating or growing too.
  13. macocael

    When does FilmStruck launch..?

    Goodbye Hulu, hello Filmstruck. I am waiting till January when they hook up via Roku. But I have looked over the website, and I am pretty psyched. I hope that they will make ALL the films in the Criterion Catalogue available. Hulu claimed to do so, but in fact they were missing quite a few of the classics -- the Apu trilogy, Pasolini's Trilogy of Life, Altman's films, many of Buñuel's, Fellini's NIghts of Cabiria, etc.
  14. macocael

    Sever the Cable Cord!

    Sling is basically the streaming version of the cable bundle idea, and you can get TCM if you add it as an $5 extra onto their bundles. But I think TCM would be better off as an independent stream. Like a lot of streamers, I dont want what Sling offers, I want to fine tune my choices. I bet there are a lot of potential TCM viewers out there who would opt to subscribe directly to TCM. I imagine that TCM is not set up yet for it, but it can't be too difficult.
  15. macocael

    Sever the Cable Cord!

    How many of you would like to see TCM offer itself as an independent stream via the internet, rather than as part of an expensive cable bundle along with a lot of other channels that you probably dont even watch much? It seems to me that if TCM wants to pull in new generations of viewers, it will have to offer its service as an independent stream for a monthly subscription, just like Hulu, Netflix, HBO, or any number of other channels (heck, even PBS does this now). Instead of paying your cable company $75 bucks or more a month to include TCM in with a lot of other useless channels, you could just pay TCM directly for a nine or ten dollar fee and watch it via your internet connection. TCM could certainly continue to contract with the Cable companies -- HBO and others do -- but why limit itself to that sole means of distribution? People want to tailor their television entertainment these days, and TCM should capitalize on the trend. I bet that subscriptions would increase.

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