The ever-growing list of streaming services looking to take your money is about to get a little longer.
Digital video studio Fullscreen will launch its own standalone streaming subscription on Tuesday. For $4.99 a month, the service will serve up originals like rebooted/revived/re-whatever-we're-calling-it-these-days comedy "Electra Woman and Dyna Girl," starring YouTube megawatts Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart; chat shows with other social media stars; and "nostalgia programming," i.e. licensed movies and TV shows from the '90s like "Cruel Intentions" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."
There won't be any ads — at least for now — and you'll be able to stream on iPhones, iPads, some Android phones and through anything that connects to Chromecast, though the app was designed to snag smartphone users first, with the ability to make .gifs at the touch of an icon and its own built-in social media section.
Oh, and novelist/screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis — the guy behind "American Psycho," now a Broadway musical — is going to be writing and directing an eight-episode drama for the service about kids who escape from a cult, called "The Deleted." Ellis was considering striking out on his own with the material, when Fullscreen founder and CEO George Strompolos showed up and gave him the hard sell, which included pushing Ellis to go even darker than originally intended.
"Fullscreen will not be for everyone," Strompolos said to a pre-launch gathering of reporters Monday. "In fact, we're proud of the fact that Fullscreen won't be for everyone."
Himself a YouTube veteran, Strompolous founded Fullscreen in 2011 to help YouTube stars make money. About two years ago, the brass turned their attention to creating and distributing their own material, building a player and app from scratch to appeal as much as possible to a generation of media consumers who grew up on YouTube and don't see it as a sub-genre to TV.
Fullscreen COO Andy Fossell described the service as just one of the wave of onrushing streaming services that are "post-cable, post-Netflix," that place a premium on personalization that goes deeper than an occasionally buggy algorithm. "You can't just be a media company and bolt on technology," Fosser said. "And you can't just be a tech company and learn a little about programming. You're really going to have to be good at both to be a leader in the next ten years."
"That doesn't mean Netflix is going anywhere," Strompolos pointed out to International Business Times. "But it's not really geared towards the people we're trying to reach. They've got kids' programming, and really adult stuff, but there's opportunity in between."
That's one thing Fullscreen has going for it: It's not trying to compete with more "traditional" streaming services like Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime, or even a niche service like NBC Universal's Seeso. The competition falls along the lines of Verizon's go90, or YouTube Red. But Fullscreen is $5 a month cheaper than YouTube Red, and the old-school MTV aesthetic — which Strompolos remembers as a "granddaddy millennial" — just might be more of a draw than you think.
Swiping through the app's offerings, you'll occasionally be met with a random still or .gif that has no raison d'être other than someone thought it might be funny or interesting to stick in there. One could argue that same aesthetic, consisting of über-creative, passionate geeks who were given free rein to throw whatever they wanted on the screen, helped build Viacom's Adult Swim block on Cartoon Network into the powerhouse attractor of young viewers it is today.
Another thing Fullscreen has going for it is the backing of AT&T and Chernin Group-backed Otter Media. Ostensibly, it's a standalone service that enjoys an influx of cash from bigger groups, but AT&T chief marketing officer David Christopher told IBT there may yet be grander things in store. "We view this as a great complement to what we're doing in the TV Everywhere space," he said.
Could that mean including Fullscreen in a DirecTV bundle? Or data used watching Fullscreen not counting against AT&T customers' data caps? Sponsored data? All of the above are currently in play, at least in the idea phase, Christopher acknowledges. "This has the potential for a huge audience, but it's not for everybody," he says, so how they present it to potential customers is in flux. "We're still figuring out what the right swizzle is."